Here in St. Louis, we have the legendary Kirkwood-Webster Groves annual football game. Over something like 95 years, this has gradually changed from an event where rival fans of the two high schools used to beat each other up in the stands to one where the two schools hold a “friendship dance” the night before the game.
Here are the essential elements:
It’s been going on forever. Almost non-stop since the early 1900s. There are literally families of 3 or 4 generations who grew up with the game. This rivalry actually predates the Yankees/Red Sox, Cubs/Cardinals or pretty much anything other than Army/Navy and Harvard/Yale.
The two towns are linked with histories that don’t depend on being suburbs of St. Louis.
The rivalry is more intense because to any outsider, Kirkwood and Webster Groves are pretty much the same suburb with different names.
This is the “big” game. The two schools play in different athletic conferences, so they both have to make room on their schedules for this game. They may not win their conferences, they may not go on to the state championships, but BY GOD they will play each other.
There is a sentimental, meaningless trophy (a bell from the days when railroad service linked the two towns.) that confers bragging rights on the winner.
An elaborate culture surrounds the event. It’s played on Thanksgiving Day, no matter what else is going on. Both schools have events leading up to game day, including huge alumni events. Buses haul hundreds of fans between the two schools. The winning team always hauls the trophy through both downtown areas.