GALLIPOLIS — Hundreds of people filled Gallipolis City Park over the weekend enjoying music, food and mainly basketball.
The Hoop Project is an annual event that raises funds to go back into the revitalization of downtown Gallipolis, but organizers say it is also a weekend of fun and togetherness for everyone.
“To get all of the kids out and doing stuff, kinda getting everybody in town and everybody together to come play basketball to have a good time, good weekend,” said Cody Wimmer, manager of The Root. “Food trucks, shirts – everybody is selling shirts, a bunch of businesses getting their name out sponsoring and everything.”
The event was put together by The Root and the Downtown Revitalization Project (DRP) and has been held the third weekend of July since 2013, with the exception of 2020.
“Since Robbie [Pugh] has such a big sports facility, he’s powering that with all of his employees and resources and the DRP helps with all of the community aspect of it,” said Katie Ratliff, member of the DRP.
The money made from the event will be put back into the community to help bring in businesses and making the area, in general, more for everyone.
“Focused on really revitalizing this downtown area, bringing people to it and everyone out in the county as well,” Ratliff said. “We’re not just trying to help people in the city, we want to make it fun for everyone. Make it more inviting and more inclusive for businesses and people who live here.”
The tournament is a three-on-three event that includes divisions of all ages. Wimmer said teams come from all around — including Columbus, Cincinnati, Lancaster and even Kentucky — and everyone is welcome.
“I’ve played in it the past couple of years and it’s just fun to play outside and get a different atmosphere to play,” said Larissa McDaniel, a freshman from Belpre, Ohio.
McDaniel brought her friend, Hayleigh Chigester, an eighth grader from Marietta, to play along this year.
The girls had no idea the money from the tournament went back into the community, but Chigester said she thought it was a great way to give back while also having fun.
The event may be to give back to the community and offer a fun event, but Wimmer said he thinks how people come together is what makes it special.
“I think the most important thing is everybody coming out,” Wimmer said. “All the businesses just came out to help sponsor, all the volunteers just came out and help volunteer — the scorekeepers, the refs and everybody that’s kinda helped out — we appreciate everybody, it’s been awesome.”
Last year the event was cancelled due to the coronavirus, making this year even more important to the community Wimmer said.
“Kinda getting everyone in the community to come together and enjoy, especially after the year we had last year, as far as with COVID and everything,” Wimmer said of the 2021 event. “Just getting everyone out of the house, everyone to come together, something for the kids to do, something for everybody to just come out and enjoy.”
Ratliff said the hope of the event and the revitalization project is to not only give everyone something fun to do but make everyone proud of where they live.
“We want to make this downtown where people want to come and visit here, want to stay here, want to spend the night and have events here, and eat here and shop here and just make it a really fun place to be,” Ratliff said. “We just want people to be happy where they live.”
The event is promoted mainly through social media. While starting on the smaller side, it has only grown more in the seven years it has been held.
“The first year they did it they only had like 50-some teams, this year I think we had, I want to say altogether there is like 106 teams or something like that,” Wimmer said. “I know in the past he’s [Pugh] had like 180 teams. It kinda started small, but as the years have progressed it’s just gotten bigger, and everybody has showed tremendous support and everything.”
Ratliff said they are always welcoming volunteers for events like this or the DRP to help make things even better.
“We love to say, love where you live,” Ratliff said.
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Brittany Hively is a freelance writer and graduate of Marshall University, with a bachelor’s degree in public relations and journalism.