Driving through Spokane during the year, you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of what is to come. A warehouse parking lot off of Freya. A back lot near Red Lion Barbecue. Lines upon lines of basketball backboards. The bright orange hoops aren't attached, but any true Spokanite knows what they are. As the days tick on into late June, those backboards start their great migration downtown. Loaded on flatbed trucks, slowly and carefully, the beauties make their way to the many downtown streets that will soon be transformed. You roll your window down because you hear music coming from outside. Looking up you see speakers on light poles block after block after block. You can only hope that the loop of music is longer than an hour. You are stopped at a light on Riverside, and in your rear view mirror you see a noisy, slow moving pack of forklifts. They scurry over to the truck; gracefully each and every backboard is unloaded. Continuing down the street you notice more and more parking meters with orange bags over them and more and more hoops taking the place of where cars should be. Your heart beats a little faster because it is just so close.
The last Friday in June brings complete and utter transformation. Parking meters shut down. Roads closed come early afternoon. Volunteer upon volunteer swarms the streets. Yellow tape. White tape. Hoops on backboards. Food tents up. Shaved ice stands rolled into place. First aid tents strategically placed. Not always visible from the street, even more is going within Riverfront Park. Bleachers up. Sport Court down. Hundreds of brackets pinned to large, black billboards. Garbage cans, recycling bins dot every street corner and open space. Then you hear them. Bounce. Bounce. Bouncing rim. It never hurts to get a little more practice in before Saturday starts. As the sun goes down Friday, players make their way home. Looking down Main, it is backboards as far as the eye can see. The sun fades on the rims as the butterflies can't help but take their place in your stomach. You can't sleep. It really is like Christmas Eve.
Up early. Gatorade - check. (Somewhat) healthy snacks - check. Water - check. Throw in a few extra shirts, some towels, and your shades. It will be too hard to park with 40 blocks shut down, so you start walking down the hill. A few cars quietly pass by, but you are in the zone. The butterflies have made their way to your throat. By the time you reach McDonalds on 3rd you can hear it - whistles, yells, clapping, gasping, cheers. You can't help but pick up your pace. And now you can see it. The sidewalks are jammed. Mom wrangling little ones, dads huddling their teams, kids passing the ball off the building. Court upon court of players. For some this is their 1st; others - their 21st. Some are hear just for fun, some are a little more competitive. All however are hear for the same reason: because they love basketball.
This, my friends, is HOOPFEST!!!!!