The District’s political movers and shakers cast aside the remnants of Tropical Storm Ian to eat, network, schmooze and talk politics at the Anacostia Coordinating Council’s 29th Annual Luncheon Cruise on October 1.
“This is the hottest ticket in town,” said Lamont Mitchell, chairman of the Anacostia Coordinating Council’s (ACC) board of directors.
“Even though we have rain, this is a tremendous turnout,” said Philip Pannell, the ACC executive director, of the estimated 200 people on board the three-level Spirit of Baltimore II cruise ship.
The ship started at its docks at The Wharf in Southwest, traveling primarily south along the Potomac River as it passed such landmarks as the Alexandria, Va., waterfront, the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and National Harbor during the nearly three-hour trip.
The boat ride serves as the chief fundraiser for the ACC. The ACC began in 1983 when a group of Anacostia residents fought to have a Metro Station located in their neighborhood. After years of legal and bureaucratic delays, the Anacostia Station opened on Dec. 28, 1991. ACC has been credited by civic leaders and historians as one of the main neighborhood organizations who pushed for the opening of the station.
Since the station’s opening, the ACC has advocated for more District government resources for Historic Anacostia and surrounding neighborhoods and has sponsored blood drives, HIV-AIDS and coronavirus testing, educational and civic advocacy workshops and co-sponsored political candidate forums.
The ACC boat ride has become similar to the yearly J. Millard Tawes Crab and Clam Bake in Crisfield, Md., and the Shad Planking in Wakefield in Sussex County, Va., for elected office holders, candidates, political activists and junkies. It serves as the District’s marquee event where local political players and participants get together to informally discuss the latest developments in the city.
Cruise patrons enjoyed a buffet dinner and listened to music played by The Experience Band & Show.
Political figures on the boat ride included: D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, Mayor Muriel Bowser, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D), Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5), D.C. Shadow Sen. Michael Brown (D), attorney general candidate Brian Schwalb, council at-large candidate Karim Marshall and former Councilmember Sandy Allen.
Mitchell noted that Norton has attended 28 of the organization’s 29 boat rides.
“I think I missed one boat ride because my son was getting married,” Norton said. “This boat ride is alive and kicking.”
Longtime ACC members said each mayor of the District has been on the boat ride at least once. Bowser expressed her delight at being on the cruise.
“We are here to celebrate Anacostia, one of D.C.’s premier neighborhoods,” the mayor said. “I am proud of what we are doing in Ward 8. We are transforming the food scene by supporting more restaurants in Ward 8 and we just opened up another grocery store in neighboring Ward 7, an Aldi, the first full-service grocery store in 15 years.”
Schwalb said the ACC boat ride this year counts as his first and he loved every minute of it.
“I love the energy and the community coming together,” he said. “I have met about 65-70% of the people on this boat during the campaign.”
But he pointed to differences between the boat ride and the Tawes Crab and Clam Bake or the Shad Planking.
“I don’t feel this is all political,” he said. “I think this is community-based.”
Warees Majeed, who works as the chief operating officer for the Ward 8-based nonprofit, YaayMe!, brought his proteges along to expose them “to something different.”
“I wanted them to see Black excellence,” Majeed said. “I wanted them to take advantage of meeting successful people and seeing how they operate. I love ACC for doing this.”