Gussied up: Macker event set to tip-off

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 29, 2005

After months of planning, Gus Macker Basketball arrives in the Tri-State on Saturday.

On Thursday, crews began unpacking the baskets and setting up the site along Second Street between Washington Street and Park Avenue.

More than 170 teams of four-players have registered, some coming from as far away as Buffalo, N.Y. Opening ceremonies will be 8 a.m. Saturday with games played all day on Saturday and through Sunday afternoon.

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From Friday night through Sunday night Second Street will be closed to traffic for the tournament. Surrounding businesses such as U.S. Bank's drive-through and C&S Guns will still be accessible.

"I'm really, really excited," said Rick Jansen, one of the founders of the Friends of Ironton, the civic improvement group that organized the Tri-State's first Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament.

"I think that this thing just lined up perfectly. This is just the perfect size for us."

Jansen said the group of volunteers who have devoted much of their personal time to the project deserve many thanks.

"If we'd have known how much work was involved in it, I'm not sure we'd have pursued it as heavily as we did," Jansen said. "It would have probably scared us off."

The hours spent all have one singular purpose, to help the community.

"Six months of weekly meetings at 7 a.m., marketing the tournament, logistics, site preparation, obtaining sponsors, recruiting volunteers Š I'm sure we've got 10,000 man hours in it," Jansen said. "I can't imagine it being any less than that."

And all of those hours of preparation should pay off for the local economy.

"If the demographics provided to us by Macker are correct, based on the number of teams we have registered, we should have between 8,000 and 8,500 people coming into town," Jansen said. "It's a really positive thing for the community. Even people in Huntington (W.Va.) are talking about it."

Volunteer and organizer Joyce Lynd said the experience has been lots of hard work, but also very rewarding.

"I truly am excited about it. It's been a wonderful experience," Lynd said. "The people in the community have been wonderful. I have just been so impressed at how generous everyone in the community has been and the city has been wonderful to work with."

A Michigan man started the tournament in his driveway in Lowell, Mich., in 1974, and turned it into a touring charity event in 1987 with five cities hosting the All-World Tour.

Proceeds from the Ironton Macker event will go to the Friends of Ironton, a grassroots, civic improvement organization. Past Friends of Ironton projects include the purchase of bullet-resistant vests for the Ironton Police Department, purchase and installation of new street signs throughout the Ironton area and numerous other charitable causes.