Orange Education Association hosts Harlem Wizards game for community

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ORANGE, NJ — On behalf of the Orange Education Association, Antoinett A. Hall hosted a Harlem Wizards game at Orange High School on Jan. 20 to the delight of local children and their families. This was the first time that the Harlem Wizards have played in Orange; players took pictures with those in attendance and signed autographs.

Hall, who serves as the Orange Democratic Committee chairperson, reached out to the Wizards to have them play in Orange after seeing them play at schools across New Jersey. The Wizards are a show basketball team that delivers fundraising events for schools and nonprofit organizations.

“This was something that was two years in the making,” Hall said. “I have always seen them play; I know most of them. Every time I saw them play, it was always in the suburbs. I thought to myself, why can’t our children in Orange enjoy the same things that other kids are privy to?”

The Wizards faced off against members of the Orange community who volunteered to play. The game was fast flowing and intense, including many dunks and long-distance shots made by the Wizards to get the crowd into the fun.

“I was happy to write this grant to have this event, and everyone was all hands on deck,” Hall told the Record-Transcript. “I never take anything for granted, like the quote I always use: To whom much is given, much is required.”

Hall took it upon herself to arrange this event after many years of consideration.

“I got to thinking that we in the education committee should do something to make this happen, so after asking, can we do this, I decided to propose a grant and call it a day,” Hall said. “I talked to my partners in the committee telling them about this idea, I wrote the grant and submitted it. The city said I was good to go and to bring the community together.”

Hall was involved in the festivities, passing out Wizards memorabilia to the crowd to promote the event.

“This was an event that was meant to bring families out, and we succeeded in doing that,” Hall said. “Children were not allowed to come without their parents. Parents usually send their kids to school and then leave for work. This was a family event; it was about togetherness.”

Throughout the event, Hall said, she saw many smiles on faces in the crowd, signifying an overall positive experience.

“When I came in and looked up at the stands and said, ‘Welcome Orange families,’ the smiles on their faces made my heart melt,” Hall said. “Because that is what it is all about; it is about the smiles that are so genuine and pure. It was even more fun when I started handing out stuff to the crowd. I did not know that they would react so positively; it was a lot of fun.”

After the event, Hall discussed her plans for her future.

“I want to run for assemblyperson for the 34th District in New Jersey,” Hall said. “That position has not been held by a member of the Orange community in a very long time; I would like to pursue that position.”

Photos by Javon Ross