Cicero Gus Macker has put Cicero on the map.
“People talk about it as a destination on the New York Macker circuit,” said Julie Raddell, director of the Syracuse-Cicero Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament, held this past weekend at Drivers Village. “Cicero actually gets mentioned as a place now where people want to come and participate. Last year, we were too new, but this year, we’re much more part of the Macker circuit.”
Raddell, who works in the Cicero Youth Bureau, Parks and Recreation Department, organized the Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament in the town to raise money for the CanTeen teen center, which is run by the Youth Bureau. The center provides a home away from home after school for teens, allowing them a place to do homework, play games and keep them safe and entertained during their out-of-school time. Because of state budget cuts, the program has found itself in jeopardy and in need of a new source of funding. So in 2010, Raddell started looking for a new way to come up with some money.
“We needed a big fundraiser to make a lot of money, because we were doing a lot of little fundraisers, just nickel-and-diming and just bringing in small amounts,” Raddell said. “We were just using up our committee members year-round, and they were getting tired. So we wanted one big one that we could put a lot of work into for part of the year that could bring in a lot of money.”
That’s when Raddell thought of Macker.
“I grew up in Michigan, and that’s where Macker started,” she said. “I grew up playing in lots of Mackers and going from city to city to city, and I said, ‘Why don’t we look at this?’”
Gus Macker tournaments have become a tradition for people across the country. The first Gus Macker tournament was played by Scott McNeal (known to friends as Gus Macker) on his parents’ driveway basketball court in Lowell, Michigan in 1974, and it only grew from there. By 1987, it had become a statewide phenomenon. The first year, more than 10,400 players participated in five cities. Since then, the Macker tournaments have expanded, holding both indoor and outdoor games in more than 75 cities, with more than 200,000 players taking part each year.