Congress Heights Day is the longest, oldest and continuous parade in Ward 8. For the past 30 years Nate and Stephanie Howard have coordinated the event that celebrates the rich heritage of the Congress Heights community. However, this year they both took on a smaller role in order to take center state as Grand Marshalls for the parade. This year Monica Ray, a business owner in the Ward 8 community, coordinated the parade.
The Howard’s have lived and worked in Ward 8 for nearly 40 years and have raised their children in the Congress Heights community, where their children are Ballou High School alumni.
The parade began with a new tradition of a Jr. Grand Marshall, which was led by Tiger May, the son of one of the few African American U.S. Naval pilots. He led the parade in his top hat and cane!
This year the Congress Height Community Association sponsored the event, where Philip Pannell is the President. The event featured several marching bands for community schools in addition to political candidates running for office. Three churches in the area helped shuttle high school and elementary bands back and forth to the beginning route of the parade and back to the respective school once the event concluded.
The route began at Malcolm X Elementary School and ended at 6th and Alabama Ave. SE where there was an entertainment stage. From 1pm-2:30pm gospel artists performed and from 2:30pm-5pm hip hop artists took the stage.
After parade watchers finished the parade many went on to the health and resource The fair that took place inside of the Old Congress Heights School. Many vendors and healthcare providers attended the fair including booths that featured HIV/AIDS testing and a one-stop mobile job center among other things.
The event’s coordinator, Monica Ray, said “Each year this event grows and grows!” She noted how politicians from across the city came and participated. At-Large candidate David Grosso drove along inside the route of the parade and Council Chair Kwame Brown (D), Ward 6 Council Member Tommy Wells (D) and At-Large Council Member Phil Mendelson were present throughout the day, along with Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners from 8C, D and E.
Sponsors of the event included ANC Commissioner Sandra Seegars, Anacostia Coordinating Council, Coca Cola, Monkeywrench Foundation and Congress Heights Community and Training Development Corporation. Collectively the sponsors raised $9,000 towards the costs of the event.