Harmony through hoops: Harlem Ambassadors tour coming to Washington

Published 7:41 pm Saturday, February 21, 2015

Washington is getting a taste of Harlem-style basketball on March 17 when the always-fashionable Harlem Ambassadors come to town and take on a collection of local first responders.

The showcase marks the first time in the history of Beaufort County where first responders from all departments will come together on the same court for a casual, at times comical game of basketball.

The event, being put on by The Beaufort County Police Activities League (PAL) and the Washington Rotary Clubs, starts at 6 p.m. and will take place in the David W. Smith Gymnasium at Washington High School. Admission is $5 in advance and $6 at the door and all proceeds with benefit community projects and first responder programs run through PAL.

“They’re comprised of college basketball players who have graduated and emphasize clean living, college education and athletics,” said Alvin Powell, president of the Beaufort County chapter of PAL. “They have helped nonprofits like ours raise over $9 million by traveling all over the world, playing local teams that the organization a they’re helping puts together. We decided to put together a team of first responders, since our mission is to improve the relationship between law enforcement and youth.”

Since 1998, the Harlem Ambassadors have entertained thousands with acrobatic slam dunks, dazzling tricks and comedy routines, usually choreographed to music. They will face off against members of the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, Washington, Chocowinity, Aurora and Belhaven police departments, the Washington Fire Department and EMS, U.S. Coast Guard and Beaufort County Schools’ coaching staff. Joining the “First Responders Dream Team” will be local icon Terrence Copper, an ECU graduate and former member of the Pam Pack and NFL.

“Given the unfortunate situations that have been happening across the United States with law enforcement and shootings, this is yet another way the program can help facilitate healing and understanding between the community and all first responder groups,” Powell said. “There’s nothing wrong with proactive healing before a problem occurs.”

The game itself will consist of 8-minute quarters with a special choreographed halftime show from the Harlem Ambassadors that encourages audience participation. After the game, players will have an autograph signing and hand out souvenirs. WITN’s Dave Jordan will MC the event. The Washington Youth Basketball League’s own John Lampkins will also help referee the game.

Tickets are on sale at First Bank, the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce and Frank’s Pizza.

Proceeds from the event will help raise money for various initiatives through PAL and the Washington Rotary Clubs.

““(PAL’s) national mission is to improve the relationship between kids and cops. We deviated from that mission,” said Alvin Powell, president of Beaufort County’s chapter of PAL. “Our mission is something I put together and it being using science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to improve the relationship with law enforcement and first responders, including teachers. We’ve expanded our definition well beyond what the national definition is and we’ve been true to our definition ever since we incorporated in June of 2012.”

For more information, contact beaufortcountypal@hotmail.com or call 252-946-4171. Even sponsors are PotashCorp, Lee Chevrolet, Washington (noon and evening) Rotary Clubs, BC PAL. Frank’s Pizza will also be providing concessions and Golden Corral-Washington will host a post-game dinner for participants.