Many residents of the Historic Anacostia neighborhood in southeast Washington, D.C. received a holiday treat when 17 of their neighbors and other District residents sang Christmas carols throughout the area on Dec. 4.
“This is the largest group of carolers we have ever had,” said Jo Knight, the coordinator of the Historic Anacostia Block Association’s 17th Annual Caroling, at the start of the event, which kicked off at the D.C. Fire and EMS Station 15 in the neighborhood.
Charles Wilson, who serves as the chairman of the D.C. Democratic State Committee said he co-founded the event in December 2006 as a means of getting together with his neighbors and spreading the holiday spirit. Other parts of the District, such as Georgetown, sponsor caroling events similar to Historic Anacostia where carolers go out into the neighborhood to entertain their neighbors.
After snacking on cookies and brownies and drinking hot chocolate, the carolers introduced themselves. Knight explained the plan for the evening and passed out sheets containing words to the Christmas hymns.
The carolers then gathered close to the fire professionals in the building and sang “Deck the Halls.” After entertaining at the station, the carolers stepped out into the cold night and began walking east on V Street SE. The carolers received an escort from police officers in vehicles as they traveled throughout the neighborhood.
During the carolers’ journey, Philip Pannell and Anthony McDuffie, the executive director and a board member of the Anacostia Coordinating Council, handed out flyers about the Dec. 10 Messiah Chamber Orchestra’s “Handel’s Messiah Concert and Community Dinner” that will take place at St. Philip’s Chapel in the neighborhood.
Stuart Anderson, an Anacostia civic and political activist, played the role of Santa Claus and handed out pieces of candy to youngsters.
As they walked on V Street, they stopped to sing “Here Comes Santa Claus” to David Banks and his children in front of their house, as his little ones danced to the tune. Banks expressed his appreciation for the caroling.
“This is great, amazing,” Banks said. “We really need more of this, especially in this neighborhood.”
They continued to walk an additional block while singing “Silent Night.” At 16th and U streets in Southeast, they belted out “Frosty the Snowman” as people came to their windows and doors to peek at the carolers.
After V Street, they proceeded to walk the short block north to get to 16th and U streets and encountered Alex Guzman and Aaron Rodriguez as they left their house. The carolers sang “Jingle Bells” as Guzman and Rodriguez slowly rocked to the beat of the song. Both said they were impressed by the show of neighborly camaraderie.
“This is the first time I have ever seen carolers,” Guzman said.
“It’s good to see people out in the community celebrating Christmas this way,” said Rodriguez.
On 16th and U streets in Southeast, the carolers proceeded west and stopped at houses to serenade residents. They sang “Joy to the Word” to a Latino family while a little girl danced to the song. The child requested another song and when the carolers sang, “Feliz Navidad”, she pranced horizontally on the porch joyously.
The carolers stopped by the residence of Dr. Carlene Reid, Ward 8’s D.C. State Board of Education member.
“Thank you for coming by and thank you for doing this,” Reid said as she handed out bottles of water to the carolers.
The procession ended at 15th and W streets in Southeast.
Knight expressed her extreme pleasure in the merry caroling.
“It is wonderful to hang out with your neighbors,” she said. “The people we encountered were great and the kids were super.”