If you followed the bouncing ball to Norwich this weekend, you no doubt ran into the sights, sounds, hustle and bustle that is the Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament.
It’s hard to believe it’s been 17 years since the Macker hoops were first set up on East Main Street in downtown Norwich. Nearly two decades later, there’s scarcely a person in Chenango who doesn’t know that our fair city transforms into Mackerville during this weekend un July.
The great thing about Gus Macker is that you needn’t be a basketball fan to enjoy the fun. All you need to do is take a walk up and down East Main during the two-day tournament to tap into the energy and excitement that Gus Macker brings to town every year. Athletes of all shapes, sizes, ages and skill ranges are able to become basketball stars for the weekend – competing for coveted trophies but mostly just having fun in the sun. With more than 400 teams of four, it’s clear that the Macker players aren’t all current residents – many are friends, family and natives who’ve returned home just for the event. It’s a veritable high school/family reunion writ large across the Norwich street – and that’s what gives Gus Macker its unique flavor when compared to our many other wonderful festivals.
Like any other community event, Gus Macker couldn’t happen without an army of volunteers. While the staff at the Norwich Family Y keeps things on track every year, they count on the generosity of many corporate sponsors and countless individuals who volunteer their time in setting up, tearing down, officiating, keeping score and making sure the tournament runs like a well-oiled machine – all under, in most cases, the relentless beating of the July sun. While the call for volunteers sounds more desperate as years go on, somehow we still manage to band together as a community and pull this thing off – a Hoop Dream if there ever was one.
While the spoils of victory may go to the trophy winners in this weekend’s contests, there are no losers when it comes to Gus Macker. From the local businesses who benefit from the increased traffic to the proud grandparents beaming from the sidelines, everyone in Macker comes out a winner.
Here’s looking forward to year 18.