NORWICH – For the past 14 years, the Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament has brought basketball enthusiasts in Chenango County and other parts of the country together around a fun-filled family event; however, this year, Macker’s doing even more to bolster community involvement and help local causes.
More than 420 teams, made up of nearly 1,700 players, will take to the streets of Norwich this weekend to compete in the basketball tournament, and while the event is hosted each year by the YMCA, other local organizations are getting in on the Macker action. This year, the Macker is seeing even more community collaboration than in the past. Local organizations are working together this year, to take advantage of an event that brings over 10,000 people to downtown Norwich. While the Gus Macker annually serves as a fundraiser for the YMCA, other local organizations are also taking advantage of the crowds the event brings to help promote and raise money for their organizations.
“The Gus Macker has always been a fund raiser for the Y,” said YMCA executive director Jamey Mullen. “But between all of the different non-profit organizations that set up booths or sell concessions in the park, I bet collectively they raise at least $50,000,” Mullen said.
Groups have long set up booths in the park as a way to raise money, but some local organizations are going a step further.
Two organizations working in collaboration with the YMCA this year will be the Norwich Pumpkin Festival and the Chenango County Blues Association.
Pumpkin Festival committee members have long been a part of the Macker weekend. Nearly all of the committee members also serve as volunteers for the event, Mullen said. But this year, the committee will also use the event as a fund raising opportunity. Friday night, as the Macker festivities get underway, the Pumpkin Festival Committee sold Brooks Barbecue Chicken behind the firehouse.
“We’re trying to bring more things in for families to do,” said YMCA Sports Director Tom Revoir. “If you can come out for Macker and support the Pumpkin Festival at the same time, why not?”
In addition to the Pumpkin Festival Committee, the Chenango County Blues Association will hold a concert on Saturday night. Featuring performances by two blues musicians, the Blues Association will provide entertainment to the Macker crowd as game play winds down on Saturday evening. Two bands, Dub State and Mutron Warriors, will be giving performances in the park.
“By joining forces, it makes this more than just a basketball event. It becomes a real family event,” Mullen said.
While the Pumpkin Festival Committee and the Blues Association are two community organizations contributing to Gus Macker, they are far from the only ones who play a role.
On Friday night, the Norwich City Band helped to keep Macker crowds entertained, as they kicked off their concert season in East Park. The City Band has used Macker weekend to launch their concert series for several years.
In addition, the Norwich Fire Department is taking on a big role in the Macker weekend this year. According to Revoir, in addition to their regular role in aiding the festival, this year, the fire department hosted registration on both Friday night and Saturday. Registration has been held at different locations in past years, including inside the YMCA, but having registration at the firehouse brings it much closer to where the Macker activity will be taking place. While the Fire Department is doing its part to help Macker, they will also be using the event as an opportunity to raise funds for another community event, the annual Fourth of July celebration. Throughout the weekend, the fire department will be selling ice cream to raise money for next year’s Independence Day festivities.