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Organizers call Gus Macker tournament an #039;awesome#039; success

Hard work, cooperation and a few hundred yards of duct tape transformed downtown Ironton into a basketball dream park this weekend.

By late Sunday all that remained of Ironton's first Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament were a couple of tents, some bleachers and a few thousand memories.

"This is amazing," said Rick Jansen, founder of the Friends of Ironton, the group that organized the Macker event. "What happened here this weekend is just awesome."

More than 700 players took to the streets and parking lots of downtown Ironton on Saturday and Sunday, playing street ball on courts marked with duct tape.

The event was the biggest undertaking to date for the Friends of Ironton, a grassroots, civic improvement group, which raises funds for community projects.

"I'm normally my own worst critic, I see all of the things we can improve upon," Jansen said. "But we nailed this one. It was great. We had just about the right size crowd with the number of volunteers we had.

"There's been a big weight taken off our chest," he said. "It's a relief knowing the citizenry supported it both volunteer-wise and by coming out and seeing it."

The volunteers, who came from all walks of life, from local physicians to community service workers from the court system, made the difference, Jansen said.

"We often just hear the negative in this town, but there are some really good people here who will be there when you need them," he said. "It's hard to put a value on them. It was all dependent on each of them to make this thing happen."

Jansen said two local judges also deserved high praise for their efforts.

"We have to put a special thanks out to (Probate Court) Judge (David) Payne and his people, and of course to (Municipal Court) Judge (Clark) Collins and his people," Jansen said.

Both juvenile and adult community service workers assisted with setup and cleanup of the event.

Of all the volunteers, Jansen said Probate Court Probation Officer Joyce Lynd really stepped up and volunteered her personal time.

"She was critical, just really critical," Jansen said. "I just hate to think what would have been without her."

More than 170 teams of four-players played in the tournament, some coming from as far away as Buffalo, N.Y.

Presenting sponsors include Coke/POWERade, Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital, Bob Clyse Pontiac-GMC, The Ironton Tribune and Clark's Pump-N-Shop/Marathon Ashland Petroleum LLC. Special event sponsors include ClearChannel/Big Sandy Superstore and Kevin Waldo.

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.