Shuttered theaters, empty streets, and too many vacant storefronts.
This is what Holly-Anne Devlin is working against, during what would otherwise be a busy tourist season.
Like in many neighborhoods, the pandemic is taking a toll on Hell’s Kitchen. Normally, tourism and theater goers help this area to thrive. Devlin concedes that some of her own friends and colleagues have moved out of state.
She’s staying. And she’s formed the “Hell’s Kitchen Happiness Krewe” to bring back some of the energy we miss.
It’s a pop up band helping to drive revenue for small businesses and restaurants.
“We come out, and we don’t tell anyone we’re coming. And we do it not only to support the artists who are participating who have been out of work but the small businesses as well," said Devlin.
Devlin owns three production companies and once employed more than a hundred people. But when shows closed her employees and many others were left without work. Devlin is using her own savings to pay the “Happiness Krewe” performers.
“For us as artists, it gives us a reason to stay here. A reason to keep on creating," she said.
The weekly pop up shows quickly grabbed the community’s attention. Residents in the West Village enlisted Devlin’s to create a weekly carnival of their own. Now with two shows a week, Devlin hopes to touch all five boroughs.
“When people see these brass bands coming through the neighborhood, you instantly feel the joy, relief and healing, which is something that this city needs right now," said Devlin.
The locations of the pop up concerts are kept secret - leaving people to stumble upon this musical surprise.
“We’ll go to a restaurant at the beginning of the night and it will be totally empty and by the time we leave, the place will be filled," she said.
At least for a few moments, the blues melt away. “New York, New York” reminds a small crowd just how much they love the city they call home.
For jazzing up life and marching joy back into her community, Holly-Anne Devlin is our New Yorker of the Week.