EASTON — More than 400 community members descended upon the Idlewild Basketball Court on Sunday evening in support of Shelton Hawkins’ Play in Color event.
The night featured two basketball games, with the teams consisting of Hawkins’ friends and supporters. The Not A Phase All Star team took on Iso Elite in the first round, winning 48-33 when the final buzzer went off.
In the second game, Subway defeated Hawkins’ Play in Color team 56-48.
DJ Hector Ramirez was on scene with Desmond Greene as emcee, entertaining the crowd throughout the night.
“I want to thank everybody for coming out, this event has been 10 times better than what I thought it was going to be,” Hawkins said. “...I hope you all understand how important basketball is, this community means a lot.”
Hawkins is a self-described street artist and assistant basketball coach at the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore, with prior coaching experience at Chesapeake College and Sts. Peter and Paul.
The Play in Color project entails a revamped basketball court in a bright, geometric design with the goal of renewing community excitement for the courts and bringing a new art destination to Easton. The artistically designed and finished playing surface is the first installation of its kind on the Eastern Shore.
The Moton Elementary School basketball court is also nearly complete with a design by Catherine Blizzard who attends the Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia. Blizzard graduated from Easton High and was in the school’s art honor society when her design won the contest organized by art teacher Garnette Hines.
The courts will also carry on the legacy of Hawkins’ cousin, James W. Thomas III, who died Aug. 28, 2003, at the University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Easton after falling at the Idlewild Basketball Court from unclear medical complications. Hawkins recognized Thomas’ family on Sunday night.
“James, we did it! They didn’t think we could do it but we put together a whole court, we got all these beautiful people to come out here and celebrate,” Hawkins said.
In 2015, Hawkins met with Easton Town Council member Megan Cook, who sought and got concept approval from the Easton Parks and Recreation Board and the Easton Town Council. Together they raised more than $80,000 for both basketball courts and Cook helped the project reach completion, painting the basketball court throughout hot, summer days.
Under such close collaboration over the past few years, Cook also became the godmother of Hawkins’ daughter, Parker Hawkins.
Cook was present at Sunday evening’s event, as well as Easton Town Council President John Ford and his wife, Peggy Ford. Cook said the Idlewild Basketball Court turned out “absolutely beautiful.”
“I’ve never seen Shelton play so to see him out here playing on the courts that he designed that we spent so much time on, I mean it’s glorious,” she said. “...Hopefully this is just the first of many events.”
Hawkins’ girlfriend, Sydney Butler, said “it’s nice to see someone that works so hard on every little specific detail and then for it to come out and just be flawless, it really means everything.”
Hawkins said he hopes to expand Play in Color to basketball courts in Cambridge and Salisbury as well.