PEKIN, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — For a 56th straight year, there will be a Pekin Holiday Tournament.
The tournament has been canceled due to the pandemic so there won’t be basketball games in Hawkins Gymnasium the week after Christmas. But fans will be go online to vote for their favorite teams to determine a winner this year.
“One of the committee members brought up the idea of trying to do a virtual tournament, where we would engage all 16 teams over social media,” said Pekin athletics director Barry Gurvey.
And the mastermind behind the virtual holiday tournament is Pekin Insurance Vice President of sales and marketing, Joel Jackson.
“We were just talking about what we could do to keep the spirit of the event, build some energy,” Jackson said. “I threw out the idea of could we do something with social media, and it kind of just built from there.”
The competition will be decided on the Pekin Insurance Holiday Tournament Facebook page. Beginning December 7, fans can vote for their team in the seeding round.
Then starting December 14th, teams will go head-to-head in a fan vote to decide who will be crowned this year’s tournament champion.
“It’s heartbreaking for these kids to not be able to play basketball this year,” Jackson said. “So if we can give them something to have fun with, to have a little bit of excitement with and have a little joy, just for a little bit of time, then let’s do it.”
It’s a way to keep the tournament going.
“Every year since 1965, the Holiday Tournament has been held on this floor,” Gurvey said while standing inside Hawkins Gym. “And even though we aren’t going to bounce the basketballs this year, I think it is important for our community to still have that sense that the Holiday Tournament is still happening, to keep everybody engaged and make it feel like we are still having some sort of tournament.”