Washington, DC rolled out the red carpet for Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., whose 51st National Convention and Centennial Celebration was held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center July 11 – 17. During the week-long celebration, the Convention Center, its staff and service partners welcomed nearly 40,000 attendees, marking the highest convention attendance in the 100-year history of the Sorority.
The execution of Delta Sigma Theta’s biennial conference required an extraordinary amount of logistical groundwork, preparation and planning by Events DC, the official convention and sports authority for the District, and hospitality and service partners throughout the city.
“Delta Sigma Theta’s crimson-and-cream presence in our city touched every part of our city’s hospitality from restaurants, retail, transportation and attractions – resulting in great economic benefit for the city,” said Gregory A. O’Dell, president and CEO of Events DC. “A commitment to customer satisfaction was on full display by our team, including our service partners, the District’s hospitality community and city agencies, to make the festivities enjoyable for the women of Delta Sigma Theta during this historic celebration.”
The impressive logistical production accomplished during the convention’s sessions included setting 45,000 chairs in five halls in theater-style sets within an eight-hour timeframe, and then changing three halls over to a 16,000 banquet-style set with 1,600 tables within six hours. In addition, throughout the week-long convention, 9,000 feet of truss were utilized, 350 chain motors, more than 500 scoop lights for house lighting, 60 digital video screens, 64 projectors and 40-dimmer racks within the Convention Center halls.
The scale of the catering service achieved was remarkable as Centerplate/NBSE, the Convention Center’s catering partner, served 49,780 meals from July 15 – 17. Centerplate/NBSE utilized over three miles of baking sheet pans and 42 refrigeration trucks for storage. Food and beverage served during the event included 23,250 pounds of chicken breasts, more than eight tons of vegetables, 14,400 liter bottles of water, 6,300 pounds of cheese and 4,800 gallons of iced tea. To help make this event run smoothly, Centerplate/NBSE coordinated more than 3,100 servers and used 139,000 plates, 139,000 forks, 94,500 knives, and 50,000 spoons.
“Centerplate/NBSE couldn’t be more proud to honor this impressive organization and to help celebrate the 100th anniversary,” said Vince McPhail, Vice President of Operations for Centerplate/NBSE at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. “It has been our honor and privilege to provide an extraordinary experience to this organization, which has contributed so much to communities worldwide.”
To help accommodate the number of attendees, Centerplate/NBSE solicited assistance from wait staff throughout the East Coast. Staffing the event required 275 culinary personnel and 40 managers to oversee operations. Centerplate/NBSE’s network of chefs and convention center professionals borrowed personnel and equipment from New York, Denver, Florida and Dallas to assist.
The economic impact of convention attendees and guests on the District was significant as millions of dollars were spent on hotels, food and retail. Washington hotels, restaurants and attractions orchestrated an array of themed cocktails, receptions, dinners and other programs and meetings to welcome the Sorority in concert with Events DC partners including Destination DC, the official convention and tourism marketing arm for the city, and the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington.
“Hosting Delta Sigma Theta’s National Convention was an unforgettable experience for Washington, DC and an extraordinary opportunity to showcase the best of our city to more than 40,000 of their members and other guests that celebrated with them,” said Elliott L. Ferguson, president and CEO of Destination DC. “Every facet of the hospitality community benefitted from the attendees and their profound presence in our city over the past seven days, making them feel welcome and comfortable as they dined, shopped and experienced the nation’s capital. The economic impact was, as expected, far reaching.”
“We were pleased at the enthusiastic response we received from our restaurant members around the Deltas Centennial Convention,” said Kathy Hollinger, president of Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington. “The Deltas brought a lot of energy into the city and we’re happy that our restaurants were able to greet them with open arms for this historic occasion.”
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. is a private, non-profit organization whose purpose is to provide assistance and support through established programs in local communities throughout the world. A sisterhood of more than 200,000 predominantly black college-educated women, the Sorority currently has over 900 chapters located in the United States, England, Japan, Germany, the Virgin Islands, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Jamaica and the Republic of Korea.