The Commodore’s Ball at the Old Dominion Boat Club
Question: Why is pirating so addictive?
Answer: They say once ye lose yer first hand, ye get hooked!
That was one of the dozens of pirate jokes hanging off the orange and black balloons dangling from the ceiling of the Old Dominion Boat Club (ODBC) during the Commadore’s Ball — the pirate jokes being just a small example of the creativity, attention to detail, and execution making for a memorable evening and a smashing success. Last Saturday night, at the river’s edge, flanked by Prince Street and the Strand, the new state of the art clubhouse celebrated it’s first Commodore’s Ball.
The ODBC’s Commodore’s Ball always has a nautical theme and this year’s was “Cruise from ODBC North” — kinda’ Caribbean Formal with a Splash of Pirate. With the new clubhouse now away from the docks the Commodore, Bruce Catts, wanted to incorporate the festivities at the new clubhouse and the docks honoring the fact that even though the boats and the clubhouse are no longer at a singular address this 138 year old Old Town institution is still one complete boat club though now separated by a city park.
Commodore Catts stated, “The reason it’s called the Commodore’s Ball at our club is because the Commodore hosts the party, along with his Mamadore. . . . In years past we had a Lawn and Dock party but since we no longer have a lawn, my wife, Lauren, and I, decided to bring back the Commodore’s Ball which we had back in the early to mid-2000’s. At last year’s Lawn and Dock party we had the boaters participate in serving hor d’oeuvres on the docks. I thought it was one of the best parties we had ever had. We still have the docks, but it is not the same without the building, so we decided to have drinks there to start the evening before the short trek to our ‘Ship’ (a.k.a. the clubhouse) where all will be checked in at Passport Control for an evening of fun, food and dancing.”
In a fitting homage to the theme, Bruce and Lauren, solicited volunteers to serve Pirate’s Punch on the docks while guests sipped, mingled, and enjoyed the sound of steel drums transporting you to a tropical retreat.
The attire was “Caribbean Formal” — one of those things on an invitation that sounds fun but you end up thinking: what the heck is that? And that’s actually part of the fun. See how folks interpret the attire and watch the fashion show! Plus, the award for “Best Dressed Gent” sweetens the pot for the fellas to really put in some effort.
After filling up on Pirate’s Punch everyone paraded through the park to the clubhouse that was transported into our cruise ship for the evening. Just across the threshold, on the Prince Street entrance, was a red carpet welcoming guests checking into Passport Control. At Passport Control you were given a little passport to put your souviner photo in and the raffle numbers were printed on the back — a lovely little keepsake.
From Passport Control it was to the ballroom where there was coconut shrimp, meatballs, and a fabulous salad bar waiting for you to start the evenings cruise fare off. Having the food available upon embarkment was nicely thought out considering the party was already going for an hour on the dock. With the salad bar waiting along with two substantial appetizers no one had to gaze around the crowd looking for cocktail servers making their next loop of passed hors d’oeuvres around the room.
Decorations were fun and thoughtful, yet casual.
And all the decorations, thought, and food were wrapped up in a musical bow. The “Tommy and the Bahamas” Band set a relaxed yet energetic vibe for the ball. Playing fun and danceable songs in their flip flops they beckoned guests to the dance floor all evening.
The evenings menu went on to include a buffet provided by the club’s kitchen including fried cod, chicken picante, bbq pork, and white rice with peas and ham — all this along with the Momadore’s own homemade cole slaw (recipe coming soon). “It was really important to me that we had homemade elements to the evening. I love having good homemade food at the club. It makes the evening unique. Something different than we have all the time when we order off the menu for dinner. I was excited and nervous about the salad bar but once people heard they really stepped up to volunteer and make sure things were different.” said, Momadore, Lauren Catts.
And the evening’s official program concluded with someone winning the raffle, the best dressed gent contest, and lots of music dancing and laugher . . .
As you may already know, the ODBC has been a presence in Old Town Alexandria since 1880. What you may not know is that the Boat Club is a volunteer organization — volunteering for the club as well as external charities and causes. The ODBC has raised a significant amount of money for various causes and donated their clubhouse for various organizations events over the years.
If you’re curious, here are just a few of the ODBC’s charitable works . . .
- Ringing the bell for the Salvation Army the day of the Scottish Walk. This long time tradition of Boat Club members ringing the bell during the holiday season has been going on for nearly 50 years!
- Annual Poker Run for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society raises significant funds yearly!
- Hosting events for children with special needs and their teachers from local elementary schools. At the Christmas time event, the children have lunch followed by Santa boating up the river to the clubhouse to distribute presents!
- Hosting monthly meetings of the Alexandria Sportsman’s Club which grants scholarships to student athletes attending schools in the City of Alexandria!
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