Only in New Orleans: Christmas in July means Bridge House meal, reindeer games

By Annette Sisco

The holidays are a long way off, and with them the seasonal outpourings of generosity that lift the less fortunate in our community.

But Bridge House/Grace House brightens up the long summer lull every year with Christmas in July, a free summer meal and clothing giveaway aimed at the homeless.

This year’s dinner — turkey and the trimmings — will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday at 1160 Camp St., organizers said.

“At Bridge House/Grace House, we host three dinners for the homeless and indigent of New Orleans a year, the other two being Thanksgiving and Christmas,” assistant income development director Joe Pitman said.

“This event essentially serves as an opportunity to open up our thrift store, provide some clothing, to provide a meal.”

It’s also a way to get the word out on the street about the substance abuse programs that Bridge House/Grace House runs, he said.

A cadre of 100 volunteers has been assembled to set the tables and serve the meals. Food is being prepared by Mother’s Restaurant.

After the Sunday dinner, volunteers will distribute packages of toiletries and clothing from the Bridge House thrift shop, Pitman said.

From 700 to 1,000 people are expected, and although tables have been added inside and tents pitched on the grounds, there may be a line for part of the day, Pitman said. So volunteers have also collected 1,200 bottles of water to hand out to those waiting in line.

Want to get involved? Toiletries, donations of gently used clothing and cash are always needed.

For more information, or to find out how to contribute to the event, contact income development director Wayne Olivio at (504) 821.7135, wolivio@bridgehouse.org, or assistant income development director Joe Pitman at (504)821.7288, jpitman@bridgehouse.org.

Meanwhile, at the
North Pole

Fun-seekers in the Warehouse District have a different take on Christmas in July.

The folks who brought us the Running of the Santas in December throw a new midyear prequel Saturday called “Rudolph’s Revenge,” a block party with music, food and games outside Barcadia, 601 Tchoupitoulas St.

The party starts at 11 a.m. and continues all afternoon and well into the night, moving later in the evening to Generations Hall, 310 Andrew Higgins Drive.

Expect Santa hats and shorts, play beards and “green and red bikinis,” promoter Steven Schulkens said. Costumes are encouraged.

But it’s not all fun and reindeer games.

The block party is free, but food and drink will be for sale. A portion of the proceeds will go to benefit That Others May Live, a group that helps finance college tuition for the surviving children of military service people killed in combat.

For more information, go to http://www.rudolphsrevenge.com/new-orleans.

Annette Sisco is community news editor. She can be reached at asisco@theadvocate.com.