The Anacostia Coordinating Council Boat Ride

Guests enjoy the band.

Neither drizzly, overcast skies nor cool weather deterred the crowd of over 300 people who came to celebrate this past Saturday with the Anacostia Coordinating Council (ACC) on the Spirit of Washington river boat (still technically referred to as the Spirit of Baltimore). This event has literally become an annual local area “must go to affair.” 

It has attendance across the spectrum of race/ethnicity, age, residence, politics, education and social standing.  Leaving from the docks of the DC waterfront on the Potomac River, it cruises for more than two hours to the edge of Alexandria, VA and back to DC.  Once onboard and the cruise begins, the celebration encompasses the energy of people determined to have a good time and to acknowledge how much they have to appreciate and be grateful for. 

Old friends greet each other and catch up on what’s been happening in their lives and new acquaintances get to know each other and form new alliances and connections.  This is not just a DC attendee’s event; people come from Maryland, Virginia and beyond. 

The boat is a three-tiered, floating wonder. Except for living quarters, it comes close to being a yacht.  The self-serve dining is bountiful and deliciously prepared.  The bar prepares just about whatever potable you could imagine (alcoholic or not) and the wait staff is accommodating and efficient. 

Lamont Mitchell, ACC Chair, brought forth a pastor to bless the day and introduced the ACC staff and local people of note: Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton vowed to fervently continue her push for DC statehood, Mayor Muriel Bowser affirmed her commitment to continue moving the city to provide DC citizens the best opportunity to have good lives and City Council Chair Phil Mendelson made comments. 

The entertainment featured poet Charity Blackwell (from Busboys and Poets) who gave a stirring rendition of her poem “Shaq,” which used the metaphor of basketball as a means to pursue one’s dreams.  The Terrys (a father and daughter duo) gave engaging renditions of several R&B and soul classics by Anita Baker, Chaka Khan, Donny Hathaway and others. The Experience Band, featuring vocalist J’Ta Freeman, provided lively versions of music by Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and others. They had the floors packed with rhythmic bodies rocking and rolling to the joyful sounds. What fun!  

Philip Pannell, ACC Executive Director, enthusiastically pumped up the crowd with his exhortations about the community work, service and support that ACC provides and expressed his gratitude for the success of the Boat Ride over the years.  He promised that next year, the 40th anniversary of ACC, will be a joyous celebration. 

It was noted that next year (2023) no single tickets will be sold. People were advised to connect with those purchasing table spots to ensure their inclusion. 

This post-COVID event clearly illustrated how relieved and grateful people were to just be able to congregate, socialize and enjoy an afternoon of conviviality, entertainment and adventure. It was invigorating and reassuring and the joy and appreciation was palpable. 

Hope to see you next year! 

Michael Sainte-Andress is the Anacostia Coordinating Council’s Arts and Culture Ambassador