In front of Lucy the Elephant, in front of Steel Pier, in front of the famous Wildwood beach balls and a Ventnor lifeguard boat and the "Welcome to Avalon" sign, Harlem Globetrotter Chris "Handles" Franklin is there, deftly maneuvering a red, white and blue basketball and flashing a wide, "this is easy" kind of smile.
The slickly edited video - featuring Franklin spinning, balancing and dribbling the ball so seamlessly over 13 locations that the Globetrotters had to note that no green screen was used - was shot for New Jersey's "Stronger than the Storm" campaign to remind people the beaches are open for business. The video quickly received local and national attention, including a tweet from Gov. Chris Christie and a mention on the Today Show. (The video is available on the Harlem Globetrotters YouTube page.)
"New Jersey has been great to us," Franklin says. "We played in New Jersey so many times a year because it's a great state for us. So, we wanted to help out with the (Stronger than the Storm) campaign. We wanted to let the people know that the Jersey shore was open for business ... so we came up with a unique way of saying that."
Franklin and the rest of the Harlem Globetrotters are bringing their summer series to the Wildwoods for a third consecutive year after successful games in 2011 and 2012. The four-game series kicked off Wednesday, Aug. 7, and continues through Saturday, Aug. 10, with all games beginning at 7 p.m. at the Wildwoods Convention Center.
This year, Wildwood is the only location the Globetrotters will play in North America during the months of July and August - a sharp contrast to the 240-plus cities the team typically visits in the winter months.
This year's tour includes a new twist for fans that will have the Globetrotters spinning few extra tricks. The "You Write the Rules" tour give fans the chance to vote for some of the rules of the game - with the Globetrotters doing whatever the fans decide.
"We're taking fan interaction and audience participation to another level," says Franklin, who earned his nickname spinning and moving the basketball like it has invisible handles. "We pride ourselves on being a team that brings families together."
In addition to the four games, the Globetrotters are offering four sports clinics, open to boys and girls between ages 6 and 14. Spots in the clinic cost $59 and include one ticket to a Globetrotters game.
The Globetrotters held two sports clinics in 2012, both quickly selling out.
The team also made several appearances at Cape May County schools in June, hosting anti-bullying assemblies.
"One thing about us is when we go into these communities, we want to make an impression," Franklin says. "We don't just play a game and get out."
The summer series will be chance to visit home for Brawley "Cheese" Chisholm. The Bronx, N.Y.-born Globetrotter grew up in Evesham Township, Burlington County and graduated Cherokee High school in 2004.
Chisholm says his mother, brother, and other family and friends will be in Wildwood to see him play.
"It's always special to play at home," says Chisholm, who earned his "Cheese" nickname thanks to his constant smile. "I always knew I wanted to be a basketball player … and I worked hard every single day. That's what I always tell the kids … that you have to work hard, that it's a lot of sacrificing."
Chisholm says traveling the world as a Globetrotter has brought experiences he never expected.
"I'm still Brawley Chisholm, I'm Cheese, I'm still regular… but it's surreal at moments," Chisholm says. "One time I was in a children's hospital for kids with cancer. I'm walking around and went into a room and talked to a kid with his dad … his dad came out crying, saying it's the first time his son smiled in weeks. Moments like that really humble me. When you go to a Harlem Globetrotters game , you can be 8 or 80 and you leave with the same experience."
Entertaining and mentoring children in basketball is personal for Franklin, who dreamed of joining the Harlem Globetrotters from the first time he saw them appear on a "Scooby Doo" cartoon at age six, he says.
"I wanted to solve mysteries and play for the Harlem Globetrotters," Franklin says, laughing. "You know, everybody has their own story, but for me … I never wanted to do anything else. It was always my dream. For me, it was something I went after all my life."
"When I finally graduated ... I became known as one of the best ball handlers in the world, and the Globetrotters came and found me," says Franklin, now in his seventh year as a Globetrotter. "It's definitely been everything and more."
The Harlem Globetrotters changed the time of their two-hour skills clinics in Wildwood to begin at 10 a.m.
Clinics will take place every day from Saturday, Aug. 10, from 10 a.m. to noon. Games remain at 7 p.m. nightly.
The Globetrotters will be on-court for each two-hour session. Skills clinics are open to boys and girls of all skill and experience levels between ages 6 and 14.
A spot in the clinic costs $59 and includes one complimentary ticket to any of the remaining three games in Wildwood (valued up to $44). Space is limited. Tickets for all clinics and games are available at
Ticketmaster.com or by calling 800-745-3000.
- Regina Schaffer