Two enormous bloodmobiles — one in neon chartreuse, the other, well, blood-red — stretched down Frenchmen Street from the Apple Barrel to the Spotted Cat this afternoon. The event was called “Frenchmen Street: Roll Up Your Sleeves,” and it was a replacement blood drive for the 19 victims of the Mother’s Day second line shooting in the 7th Ward.
More than 100 people had preregistered to give blood between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m., according to Amanda Chittenden, the Blood Center’s public relations manager. “But the first 12 people we got were all walkups,” said Erica Dudas of the New Orleans Musicians' Assistance Foundation, the group that staged the blood drive.
The event — held in the concrete pad that’s home to the Frenchmen Art Market — was busy from the kickoff, with would-be donors lining up and musicians David and Roselyn serenading the crowd with a song appropriately called “Kiss It and Make It Better.”
“New Orleans has given us a lot,” said Roselyn. “Helping other musicians is just what you do.”
Among the first donors were Janine Waters and Christie Jourdain of the Original Pinettes Brass Band, who said they’d heard about the drive on Facebook and on TV news. Both are friends of second-line chronicler and Gambit contributor Deborah Cotton, and said they were showing up in tribute to her.
The clubs on Frenchmen Street were open, with Ben Polcer playing at the Spotted Cat and the Washboard Chaz Trio at d.b.a. Jeff Broussard, bar manager at Snug Harbor, had donated ice and opened the club’s bathrooms. He tried to give blood as well, but was turned away with a request to get a note from his doctor.
Chittenden, of the Blood Center, said she wasn’t sure how much blood would be needed to replenish the amount used by the shooting victims, but that the “replenishment” was largely symbolic. The Blood Center is called upon to donate 300 to 350 pints of blood per day to New Orleans hospitals, Chittenden said — “In cases like this, people want a way to help and we provide it.”
After the jab, donors with taped-up arms received free Radiators CDs and restorative snacks and juice.
“I was worried the rain would keep people away,” said Liz Freeman, a volunteer with the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic, “but it’s not. This is great.”