JACKSON, Mich. — Gus Macker is back, returning to Jackson after a year where pretty much everything was canceled, and organizers say this one is sure to be a slam dunk.
Jackson Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Craig Hatch expects the event to draw in 5,000 people to the downtown area over a three-day period stretching from Friday to Sunday.
“What an impact on our community. The Gus Macker folks just coming into town they're going to stay in our hotels, they're going to go to our restaurants, they're going to shop in our shops, they're going to pick up supplies in our businesses and they're going to come downtown and really enjoy our beautiful downtown that continues to grow,” Hatch said.
It was more than just basketball Friday night. Downtown Jackson had a classic car show as well as food trucks and vendors stretching from Horace Blackman Park to the intersection of Mechanic Street and Michigan Avenue.
“We have 172 teams this year. We’re pleased with that, and we’re about 60 percent youth. We’re going to have a lot of youth tournaments this year,” Gus Macker Co-Director Jessica Webb said.
The games started at 5:30 pm Friday night. Other events include training sessions with former University of Michigan basketball player Jon Horford Saturday at 10 a.m. A slam dunk contest happens at noon on Saturday. PAWS, the Detroit Tigers mascot will have a meet and greet on Saturday.
“Our heroes tournament is going to take place Saturday night about 4 o'clock and we have eight teams. We have firefighters. We have local police. They’re going to be playing right on the top men's court right here on South Jackson Street. We look forward to it. iit's just an honor to celebrate our local heroes,” Webb said.
It will wrap up with a trophy presentation Sunday afternoon.
Gus Macker owner Scott McNeal says he had to come check out his Jackson tournament for the first time in the three years the city has hosted it. Gus Macker was previously held 20 years ago in Jackson.
“People love the downtown streets here and also the interaction by this committee with social media and stuff and all the different events you're running. You're running like a total festival for the community and I think people fall in love with that part of it and our Macker junkies that travel from city to city they pick up on that. They like this setting too,” McNeal said.
The teams come from many different places such as New York, Illinois and Ohio.
McNeal credits the work of the city organizers of making this event happen.
“Oh my gosh, your downtown setting is tremendous. It’s a beautiful place to play it. I’m just excited to be back. It’s been awesome. It’s been a couple years since I’ve been here, so I’m fired up,” McNeal said.
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