Celebrating its lucky 13th year, the Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation’s American Indian Powwow held a record-breaking day this Saturday, April 27, with approximately 12,000 attendees. The city of Virginia Beach calls the event a Celebration of Life for All People, and holds it in beautiful Mt. Trashmore Park (related story: Once a Trash Heap, Now Pow Wow Central)
Clark Stewart, Chickahominy, who has served as the master of ceremonies all 13 years says the Virginia Beach American Indian Powwow continues to grow in popularity and has always held a special place in his heart.
“Every year gets bigger and bigger. The word keeps getting out and people continue to come. People are always saying how excited they are for this powwow and can’t wait for it,” says Stewart. “It can’t get any better than this, I love emceeing this powwow, it is great and it is an honor.”
Debbie Vick, who works as Recreation Specialist I at the city of Virginia Beach and is the primary coordinator of the event, said this year drew the biggest crowd they had ever seen.
“This year has been amazing and we’ve seen about 12,000 people. We are growing and next year we are going to need a lot more food vendors. I actually think we are going to need to bring an ATM at this site because a lot of people have been asking. It’s been that busy,” said Vick.
Bruce “Little Drummer” Morris, a Nanticoke-Lenni Lenape tribal member and 30-year veteran dancer came from Dover, Delaware, and commented on the success of the day.
“Keith Anderson (a co-event coordinator) has been asking for me to come out here for the past four years and I have finally come out here to dance. I came today and the weather was perfect and the Creator was here. I am coming back next year,” said Morris.
“They said they’ve never seen a crowd like this. I think because the weather was great and because the power of the Creator was here and he brought the people here. I think people have been stressed with what has happened around the world and in Boston. These were all prayer dances for all these people today,” said Morris. “I think the Creator heard our prayers.”
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Among the attendees of the days celebration was radio personality Kevin Kennedy from the popular Hampton Roads morning show Movin 107.7 FM. According to Kennedy, who had never before attended a pow wow, the day was filled with learning about American Indian customs.
“I’ve never been to something like this before. I have been here a good part of the day. To see the culture and history which is so rich, it is amazing. Just to see this come alive is just, as I said, amazing. I have never seen anything like this,” said Kennedy.
“Maybe I've seen this on TV or I have read about it, but to actually see this come alive, right here in person, wow. I have never seen this anywhere, ever. I absolutely love this. I hope this doesn't throw people off, but I would love to go out there and participate,” he said.
"I am not a good dancer,” says Kennedy, "but I think I could get into this.”
For this year’s event, the MC was Clark Stewart, Chickahominy; the Arena Director was Chief Thomas "Two Feathers" Lewis, Meherrin-Chowanoke Nation; the Head Male Dancer was Mavrick Wallace, Creek; the Head Female Dancer was Jesse Wallace, Creek; the Host Drum was the Stumpton Singers of Richmond, Virginia, and the Guest Drums were the Red Blanket Singers from Bridgeton, New Jersey and the Full Circle Singers from Chesapeake, Virginia.
The American Indian Powwow is an annual event put on by the Virginia Beach Department of Parks and Recreation. For more information visit VBgov.com/specialevents.