Who really holds the title of 'oldest holiday tournament' in Illinois

By Katherine Tellez

December 27, 2013 Updated Dec 27, 2013 at 10:45 AM CDT

PRINCEVILLE, Ill. -- People in Pontiac claim their tournament is the oldest of its kind but is that really true?

Another Central Illinois town claims their tournament has some deep history.

The holiday hoops tournament is a tradition for the small town of Princeville.

People from all over come out to cheer on their teams; even those who don't have kids playing in it.

"Small towns live on traditions,” said Michael Isaacson who played in the 1964 and 1965 Princeville tournaments. “And the fact that it is a long-running tournament is part of the history of the town, not just the school."

The tournament isn't just about basketball, but the support of the town.

It takes several people to put on a tournament like this, and many of them come back year after year.

"We're sports fanatics and we love watching kids play," said Jackie Gilles who has helped with the tournament for the last 20 years.

While some may debate it, Princeville has the longest running consecutive holiday tournament in the state of Illinois. It's been going on since 1927, that's 86 years and it’s something the Princeville community is very proud of.

"During World War II, the tournaments were suspended because of rationing and stuff. But they brought some local schools in and had a one-day deal,” said athletic director Dan Sullivan. “So we kept ours going during that time."

"It's one of those things of pride, when you grow up and go to school here,” said Chris Delbridge, who played in the tournament in the 1980’s. “When you were a little kid you always wanted to grow up and be one of those kids that got to play in this tournament."

And it's a tradition these fans will support for years to come.

"It's something people come home to," said Delbridge.

In the end, both schools are technically correct.

The Pontiac holiday tournament was founded first, but it took time off for World War II.

While Princeville started later, it has the title of longest, consecutive running tournament in the state.

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