Events in Review: 100 Years of Sisterhood, Scholarship, Service (and Stunning): Delta Sigma Theta Sorority’s 51st National Convention and Centennial Celebration



The women of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated covered the District with crimson and cream during their week-long centennial celebration of sisterhood for the 51st National Convention and Centennial Celebration of the single largest African-American women’s organization. While the Sorority’s origin can be traced back to the renowned Howard University, the Walter E. Washington Convention Center proudly served at the heart of the centennial celebration festivities.

The execution of Delta Sigma Theta’s biennial conference required an extraordinary amount of logistical groundwork, preparation and planning by Events DC. Due to the record-breaking size of the event, the Walter E. Washington Convention Center staff and service partners came together in order to carry out an extraordinary event to be remembered.  Impressive logistical productions included setting 45,000 chairs in theater-style sets in five halls all within an eight-hour timeframe, as well as changing three halls over to a 16,000 banquet-style set within six hours.  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 Walter E. Washington Convention Center’s catering partner, Centerplate/NBSE was able to strategically execute and serve 49,780 meals from July 15-17.  More than eight tons of vegetables, 23,250 pounds of chicken breast, 14,400 liter bottles of water and 6,300 pounds of cheese were served. To ensure a flawless execution, Centerplate/NBSE solicited assistance from a 3,100 wait staff. With the assistance of the additional wait staff, the team pulled off a sit-down meal for 16,000 guests with table service provided to 1,600 tables. For ease in navigating throughout the venue, Events DC developed a strategy to assist more than 40,000 guests in moving from one event to the next through the use of color-coded badges. Each badge, dependent upon the color, granted attendees access to different areas at specified times.  This logistical planning resulted in a steady crowd movement and helped to regulate crowd control by reducing lines and wait times to enter and/or depart meeting spaces.

The 51st National Convention and Centennial Celebration of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. pushed an estimated $88.2 million back into the District economy through restaurants, attractions, retail and transportation.  The celebration was not only the largest convention for the Delta Sigma Theta with nearly 50,000 registered attendees – but resulted in the largest economic impact for the District in 2013. The significant economic impact benefited every facet of the hospitality community across all corners of the city, making Delta Sigma Theta’s National Convention and Centennial Celebration an unforgettable experience for not only Events DC and the Walter E. Washington Convention Center – but also for the nation’s capital.