Talking Turkey: Sophomore celebrates with unconventional Thanksgiving tradition

Ava+laughs+at+a+college+visit+to+Louisiana+State+University+%28LSU%29.++She+says+this+Thanksgiving+she+most+looks+forward+to+spending+time+with+her+family+and+her+friends.

Ava laughs at a college visit to Louisiana State University (LSU). She says this Thanksgiving she most looks forward to spending time with her family and her friends.

Georgia Moore

It’s Thanksgiving Day. The parades have ended, the turkey has been cooked and eaten, the potatoes have been mashed, the football has been watched, and the last slice of pumpkin pie has been reduced to a few crumbs. To many, this may seem like a Thanksgiving well spent, but to sophomore Ava Lindquist-Sher, the fun is just beginning.

The big day starts off like many others. “We meet up with our family,” Ava said. “We all go around the big feast and we all say what we’re thankful for and we all celebrate. We talk about our lives ‘cause we haven’t seen each other all year.”

Once the sun sets, however, things take a very different turn. “After we’ve eaten and we’re all happy and full,” she continued, “we go out to the woods where we play Manhunt.”

“Manhunt,” the much-anticipated Lindquist-Sher Family Thanksgiving tradition, is exactly what you would assume from the name. “[Manhunt] is a modified version of hide-and-go-seek tag,” Lindquist-Sher said. “We have time to run out into the woods and hide, and then you can still run away from the person if you can make it back to base, which is safe.”

Unlike other families’ traditions, which may include movies or Black Friday Shopping, Manhunt is an unconventional mix of athleticism, fear, and family time.

“It’s just really exhilarating, like, you have so much adrenaline pumping through your veins,” Linquist-Sher said. “You’re not even thinking about how your legs are all scratched up from the thorns and everything. It’s like the fight and flight instinct.”

The origins of Manhunt are not entirely clear, but, as Ava recalled, “We’ve been doing this probably since I was five, I’d like to say,” she said. “The hunting part probably came later, like when I was six. Well, actually closer to seven.” Out of the twenty or so people who attend the family’s Thanksgiving, about ten will participate in Manhunt.

Ava Lindquist-Sher with Akshara Pillai and Sofia Valdivieso-Sinyakov, a few of the participants of the multi-family Lindquist -Sher Thanksgiving. The families have known each other for almost two decades. “My sister’s best friend [is Sophia], that’s how they got to know each other, they both met when they were babies,” Ava explained.
Ava Lindquist-Sher with Akshara Pillai and Sofia Valdivieso-Sinyakov, a few of the participants of the multi-family Lindquist-Sher Thanksgiving. The families have known each other for almost two decades. “My sister’s best friend [is Sophia], that’s how they got to know each other, they both met when they were babies,” Ava explained.
Despite the dangers of running loose in the woods, Ava never considered Manhunt to be frightening. “Well I mean, it’s like the buddy system. We’ve known each other’s families since I was an infant, like, probably since I was born. So, for over 18 years we’ve been doing this.”

Manhunt has never been open to people from outside of the founding families, but in some cases there have been uninvited players in the game.

“There’s sometimes some interesting people in the woods, they’re kind of sketchy,” Lindquist-Sher added. “Kind of spices up the game a little bit, you know? You’re just kind of like, ‘please don’t kill me,’ you know?”

An exclusively all-teen event, the adults in the family remain in the dark about the game. “I don’t even know what the parents do, honestly!” Linquist-Sher laughed. “I just asked my mom the other day, ‘We’re gonna do Manhunt!’ She didn’t even know. So, I don’t even know what they do.”

However weird and wacky, the Linquist-Sher Manhunt is a staple of Ava’s Thanksgiving, just as much as the traditional turkey and pie. “It’s a nice sense of family. So it’s definitely something I love doing every year. I look forward to it, you know? The sense of adventure, the family.”