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Steve Harvey’s 9th Annual Ford Hoodie Awards Four-Day Extravaganza: Photos

LAS VEGAS – Steve Harvey’s Ford Hoodie Awards received one consistent complaint: people cannot believe that this entertainment juggernaut is not being televised somewhere.

Actually, you would need a wide-screen to take in the enormity and depth of what the Hoodie Awards has become over the years. You would probably need cable to take in the scorching jokes that whizzed by people’s heads like projectiles. The Hoodie Awards is undoubtedly the funniest, most fun and certainly one of the grandest of all the major African American-centric awards weekends. There is no way that photos and online videos can capture all of what transpired nor capture the throngs of attendees that filled the cavernous hall during the Hillshire Freedom Friday Party. You had to be there to witness as the entire casino area (mostly white folks) nearly came to a complete stop as an endless army of white-linen clad black folk filed out toward the end of the Friday party — only to go inside and still see many thousands more still packed side-by-side and singing with Frankie Beverly and Maze.

“I was at the first Hoodie Awards, when it was just one day,” BET’s Ed Gordon said in awe. “It was nothing like it is today.”

Throngs of attendees attend the Hillshire Freedom Friday Party

We lost track of how many times the Hoodie Awards on Saturday had to be stopped because the host, the presenters, the audience and the media were in tears because of mind-jarring jokes that tore through the Mandalay Bay Convention Hall and nearly tore the lining out of our stomachs. Yet, the show also had to pause at regular intervals because Harvey and Kem and Kirk Franklin sent the crowd into a spiritual frenzy reminiscent of a Sunday service.

And many celebs, like Jill Scott, Kem, Franklin Kevin Hart, Cedric the Entertainer, Terrence J, Tichina Arnold, Tisha Campbell-Martin and dozens of others made the show pop.

People’s hearts swelled as unknown teachers, principles, business owners and community activists shared their uplifting stories, often through tears. Which is why the Hoodies exist in the first place.

And then there was the beach party to close the Hoodies out on Sunday, Aug. 14. With Harvey and Nephew Tommy standing in the wings, MC Hammer came out and nearly took down the stage by impersonating his younger self and unleashing physics-defying dance moves that made him a rap megastar in the 1990s. That was one of the best performances by an old-school act we’ve ever seen, and we’ve seen many. And, to top it off, it does something to the mind and spirit to stand behind some 5,000 bikini-clad women doing a line dance in the waters of the Mandalay Bay Beach. That was worth the price of admission alone.

Thousands line dance at the on the Mandalay Bay Beach

Interwoven throughout the weekend were uplifting seminars and performances by the likes of Susan L. Taylor, whose devastating combination of wisdom and love at the General Mills booth helped to massage our weary minds and caress our hardened hearts. I only wish she could sell some of her wonderful spirit on eBay.

Perhaps TV would not begin to do the weekend justice. But, for it’s 10th annual celebration next year, Steve Harvey may want to provide just a glimpse of the national phenomenon the Hoodie Awards has become. –terry shropshire