Hoops and Hijinks

Look out Cloquet, the Harlem Ambassadors are coming to town! No, they're not the Harlem Globetrotters. They do, however, offer "Harlem-style basketball," featuring high-flying slam dunks, dazzling ball-handling tricks, hilarious comedy routines, ...

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Look out Cloquet, the Harlem Ambassadors are coming to town!

No, they’re not the Harlem Globetrotters. They do, however, offer “Harlem-style basketball,” featuring high-flying slam dunks, dazzling ball-handling tricks, hilarious comedy routines, music, dancing and games for the kids.

“We’re proud to give communities quality family entertainment that parents, grandparents and kids can enjoy together and create memories that last a lifetime,” Harlem Ambassadors President Dale Moss said, adding the Ambassadors is made up of young African-American men and women who have played college basketball, earned college degrees, are talented comedians and basketball players, and are good citizens and positive role models for kids.

“Every game is one-of-a-kind because the Ambassadors play against local competitors. It’s a night filled with laughter, comedy and slam dunks, all to benefit the local community.”

The Ambassadors will play against the Cloquet Cracker’Jacks, a team of local celebrity players recruited by the event organizers, the Cloquet Noontime Kiwanis Club of Cloquet, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 30, at the Cloquet Middle School gymnasium.


Kiwanis member Cordelia Swanson pointed out the meaning of “crackerjack,” which is defined as “an exceptionally good person or thing.” Then she rattled off the list of players for the Cracker’Jacks.

“We have scoured the region for skilled - and sometimes unskilled - players to take on the powerful Ambassadors,” Swanson said. “Come to the game and cheer on our local talent, including Mayor Bruce Ahlgren, retired hockey star Jamie Langenbrunner, Cloquet High School basketball Coach Steve Battaglia, Police Chief Steve Stracek and many more local businessmen and women who love the game of basketball and are all around ‘good sports!’”

Be forewarned, Cracker’Jacks, publicity photos for the Harlem Ambassadors show more than one local player being used as a chair, and plenty of horsing around.

The Noontime Kiwanis Club contacted the Ambassadors after its largest annual fundraiser came up short.

“When there was a blizzard on the day of our biggest fundraiser, The Last Chance Ice Fishing Contest on the last Saturday of February, we had to think of a new way to raise funds that was less weather sensitive,” Swanson explained.

By providing community comedy basketball games to towns of all sizes, Harlem Ambassadors has helped service organizations raise over $9 million since 1998, one event at a time.

The Harlem Ambassadors was a good fit. While the Kiwanis club will keep the profits from the game for its own charitable causes (which focus on the mental and physical well-being of children in Carlton County through donations and service, as well as scholarships, community program sponsorships and the international effort to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus), the club is also paying for the Ambassadors to conduct an assembly the afternoon of Sept. 30.

The Ambassadors speak to youth through their  "Stay in School, Stay off Drugs, Don’t be a Bully" school assemblies and encourage students to set goals, show good moral character, respect themselves and others, not be a bully, and avoid negative influences like drugs, alcohol, and peer pressure that can prevent them from achieving their dreams. They show kids that through hard work and dedication, they can overcome obstacles and lead meaningful lives helping others - as professional athletes - or in any profession they aspire to do.


“They totally fit with what we’re all about,” Swanson said. “It’s a pleasure to bring them to town. If we’re successful, we’ll try and bring them to every school in the county eventually.”

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