Hoopfest preparation takes volunteers, police, and some patience
The Hoopfest 3-on-3 basketball tournament is expected to draw nearly 7,000 teams and 27,000 players to downtown Spokane. Here are a few snapshots of Friday’s preparations.
Crowds hinder setup
As basketball hoops were put in place Friday evening, players filled the void and started to play. Hoopfest board member Skip Templeton said people were shooting hoops as his crews still were installing baskets on the courts.
“It’s hard to get set up with everybody around,” he said.
The crowds and confusion led to an accident on Post Street just south of Main Avenue about 8:30 p.m. Witnesses said that a woman playing basketball in the street backed into a forklift hauling basketball hoops, Templeton said.
The woman was knocked down but her injuries didn’t appear to be serious, said Spokane police Officer Casey Jones.
Rain strikes again
They say that watching paint dry is tedious, but it can’t be any worse than watching pavement dry.
At 7 p.m. on the Friday night before Hoopfest, volunteers usually are flooding the streets setting up basketball courts for two days of games. But at their usual start time, Friday the streets were wet, and the tape used to mark off the courts wasn’t sticking.
That left volunteers standing on sidewalks with nothing to do.
“It’s not going to happen until it dries,” said Patty Leland, who volunteers with her extended family every year. “It could be an hour. It could be two hours. It could be tomorrow morning.”
Her family was responsible for 15 courts this year. “The worst-case scenario is 6 a.m. (Saturday), and if it’s still wet, go without,” said her brother, Gary Kelly.
They were still too wet to place the tape at 9 p.m.
Street closing as a family tradition
At 6:30 p.m. Friday, Jim Psomas hit the streets of downtown Spokane with his wife, Julie, and 16-year-old son, Jimmy. Their mission: to close busy downtown streets while dodging cars trapped by the closures.
It’s a task the family of volunteers has taken on for the past several years. They walk from intersection to intersection placing barriers that are stacked and ready to go on each corner.
The family also serves as court monitors.
“We help out wherever we can,” he said.
Increased police patrols downtown
The Spokane Police Department will have 100 officers plus special security teams patrolling downtown Spokane. The department is receiving assistance from the Washington State Patrol, the FBI, the Department of Corrections and other local law enforcement agencies.
“Last year we had a similar plan and it went well, except for a little rain,” said Sgt. J.D. Anderson, Special Events Unit supervisor. “That’s not my problem. I’m not in charge of the weather.”
Some of the officers on patrol will be in plain clothes.
“This would not be a good weekend to get into trouble,” Anderson said. “We want to keep this event safe.”
The increased patrols will continue during the nighttime hours as well because of increased traffic to bars and restaurants.
The rest of the city still will have full staffing despite the extra officers working downtown, Anderson said.
“We restrict vacations during this time,” he said.
Hoopfest pays for 60 percent of the costs to have extra officers on duty for the event, police spokeswoman Monique Cotton said.
The other Fab Four
Team “Fab Four Plus” was huddled near the Riverfront Park’s gondola Friday afternoon.
Friends Daniel Thomas, 12, Tim Donahue, 12, and Jack Berry, 13, had yet to meet up with the last player on their team, Adam Parker, 12. The group traveled from the Seattle-area.
“We play together at home,” said Thomas, who is at his first Hoopfest.
Donahue and Berry are here for the second time.
The boys said they love Hoopfest – not just because they get to play basketball but because of all the vendors and great food.
“It’s almost like a fair here,” Thomas said. “It’s really cool.”
24 of 25
It is volunteers like Jean Parsons who make everything come together as the teams arrive and check in.
Parsons, who’s from Davenport, has volunteered at 24 Hoopfests, only missing the very first one.
Her experience qualifies her for the job as one of the chief troubleshooters at the team check-in tent.
“I love the interaction with people and talking about Hoopfest,” Parsons said during a short break Friday. “We try to make sure everything goes smoothly.”
She said technology has changed a lot since Hoopfest’s early years.
“Everything was done by hand then,” she said. “Now, we have computers and that makes everything easier – as long as they are running smoothly.”
Players appeared at Parsons’ desk asking for team numbers and looking for directions.
And she finds it hard to believe how big Hoopfest is today compared to the first years.
“Even when it was smaller, it was always a fabulous family event,” Parsons said. “Today it’s like every single corner of the park has something going on.”
Better than bad
A group of teens from Troy, Idaho, are playing their first co-ed games this weekend. Kiana Hoskins, 13, Jordyne Fredirikson, 12, Madison Sanderson, 15, Austin Pope, 14, Whitney Fredirikson, 17, and Coltin Pope, 12, clutched orange registration bags with their new T-shirts, basketballs and socks while they waited to get lunch downtown Friday.
They call themselves the BA Ballerz, the BA standing for “badass.”
“Because we’re just that,” Austin Pope said.
The group of friends said they play basketball at school back home in Troy.
“It’s, like, all we do,” Jordyne Fredirikson said.
Giovanni’s New York Italian Sausages are in Riverfront Park with many other food vendors this weekend, ready to serve sausage sandwiches, veggie sandwiches, curly fries and sausages on a stick.
Pamela Eiter, one of the owners, said it’s their fourth year at the event.
“It’s just a big food fest,” she said.
Many of her friends and family often take vacations from their day job to help serve the thousands of customers expected this year.
Those snapping pictures at Hoopfest with cellphones can quickly get an old-fashioned version – on paper.
Devon Lind, Michael Fisk and Matt Gibson of Photoboxx, a Spokane-based company, have teamed up with Century Link for folks who post to Instagram.
If users tag their photos with #centurylinkhoops, the photos will print out at the Photoboxx booth, which has been set up along Spokane Falls Boulevard in Riverfront Park. People can pick up their photos for free. If you want a reprint, just share your Instagram photo again.
It’s the first time the company has been to Hoopfest.