Harlem Wizards coming to Rifle

Traveling basketball team to perform Saturday

Eric “Broadway” Jones hypes up Graham Mesa Elementary students during lunch Tuesday afternoon in Rifle. Jones, a member of the Harlem Wizards, was in town to promote the teams game Saturday in Rifle.

For the first time in over two decades, the renowned Harlem Wizards are bringing their hardwood tricks and alley-oops to the court at Rifle High School this weekend.

“They have not been in western Garfield County for more than 20 years, I was a kid last time they were here in town,” Aileen Apodaca, Graham Mesa Parent-Teacher Association president said.

Apodaca, who has been on the PTA for six years, said people have suggested they bring the team back to Rifle the last few years, and they decided to give it a try this year. The Graham Mesa PTA is organizing the event at the high school.

Founded in 1962, the Harlem Wizards travel across the United States with their awe-inspiring show for youth, teens and even adults to help schools and nonprofits raise money.

Besides basketball, the show combines comedy, audience participation and spontaneity.

Doors open at 6 p.m. and the game tips off at 7 p.m. Saturday in the Rifle High School gymnasium.

Apodaca said there has been a great response to the event so far and hopes to fill the 950-seat gymnasium at Rifle High School on Saturday.

Tickets can be purchased at Graham Mesa Elementary or online at

With a little help from Jones, Graham Mesa fifth-grader Matilda Richardson spins a basketball on her fingers during Tuesday’s school assembly during lunch. (Kyle Mills / Citizen Telegram)

Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for children when purchased in advance or $15 and $12 at the door. Reserved seating is $20 and courtside plus tickets are $35 and can only be purchased online. 

Reserved seating includes the two rows above the front row and a free color poster for autographs. Courtside Plus seating in the front row also includes early entry, a meet and greet with the team, a color poster and photo opportunities.

Apodaca hopes the event will be a big fundraiser for Graham Mesa.

“We use the funds to buy things for the teachers, students, and the building. We help pay for field trips and different things like that,” Apodaca said.

Past fundraisers have helped purchase playground equipment and library books.

“District-wide it is more about getting the community involved with what’s going on at the schools and bringing them in for special events. Family time together, trying to bring back that family dynamic back with today’s busy lives,” Apodaca said.

The event is one of four big fundraisers the PTA does annually; Apodaca said they also do several small events just to introduce the families and staff.

“It’s not always about fundraising, we do free events like family night and different things like that at the school,” Apodaca said.

“It is more about getting families together to get to know the teachers and staff on personal levels.”

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