NORWICH – East Main Street has been blocked off, the downtown P.A. systems hum with the sound of rock n’ roll, and the sidewalks of Norwich are filled with men, women and children wearing gym shorts and carrying basketballs. These signs can mean only one thing: Gus Macker weekend has officially begun.
As the 16th annual 3-on-3 basketball tournament gets underway, anticipation and excitement buzz through the streets of a city which seems to have doubled its population in a day. People from all over the state of New York, and some from even farther, all seem to share the same feeling. “It’s better than Christmas!” said Dennis Oralls, a senior at Norwich High School.
Oralls and his teammate Josh Whaley were just a few of those who took advantage of the hoops set up a day early for some last-minute practice Friday. Both have been participating in the event for the last couple of years and agreed on its importance to the community.
“It’s really unique,” said Whaley. “And it raises the reputation of Norwich.”
It’s not just the players who look forward to Gus Macker, which will have 421 teams participating this year. James Mutabiilwa detailed the importance of the event while cheering on his son from the sidelines.
“It’s good for the kids’ health ... and it’s good for the economy of the community,” he said. “People get the real feel of a small town and community ... they get to appreciate how people here can connect.”