By Jason Wesseldyk
By Monday, Aug. 28, all of the streets near downtown Otsego had returned to a state of normalcy.
The three days before that, however, those streets were a flurry of activity.
The Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament made its annual stop in Otsego, with several of the city streets transforming into basketball courts.
And this year’s version of the event was bigger than ever, thanks to 50 more teams signing up as compared to last year.
“It seemed like this was the most people we’ve had,” Otsego city manager Aaron Mitchell said. “Which would make sense, of course, since we had more teams than last year’s record number and the weather was great.”
Mitchell praised the Macker staff for the efficiency with which the tournament is run.
“It’s always impressive to see Gus and his team come in and run the tournament as they do, with endless energy from Friday night through Sunday afternoon when trophies are awarded,” Mitchell said. “Like I mentioned, the weather cooperated and that goes a long way towards a good tournament.
“But, as you could imagine, the more people that come to an event, the more everything is stressed, including parking. We were monitoring that throughout the weekend. I would be lying if I told you we had no issues. Nothing our police department and the Gus Macker committee couldn’t handle, though.”
Residents of the streets affected by the tournament also received special recognition from Mitchell.
“We would like to thank the local property owners for their patience for this weekend,” he said. “It is an inconvenience; there is no way around it. They have limited access to their property and parking is an obstacle plus there are a lot of spectators in front of their house for an entire weekend.
“Overall, they are incredibly understanding. The Gus Macker committee does their best to resolve all issues that arise and are usually able to find a compromise to help the property owners.”
The Macker weekend started on Friday evening with a series of charity games featuring teams comprised of such groups as city workers and Otsego Public School employees.
For the second year in a row, Wishbone Pet Rescue in Allegan was the recipient of the money raised through the charity games.
“I have not heard any final numbers in terms of donations, but I can say that Wishbone got a lot of advertisement all weekend long,” Mitchell said. “Their name was heard over the airwaves throughout the tournament, so I think everyone who came learned a little bit about Wishbone if nothing else.”
The organization Together Otsego Prospers—or TOP—sponsored this year’s Macker. Otsego Main Street had sponsored the previous Mackers, but was dissolved at the end of 2022.
Mitchell said it was important to keep the Gus Macker coming to Otsego.
“This is a very important weekend for local vendors,” he said. “The economic impact on this city is incredible. Not only to the local vendors and agencies, but also to the school district that receives money on behalf of their athletes who volunteer at the event.”