Thank You Fans Friday

Friday, May 23, 2008
By: Jim Eichenhofer,

Beginning in mid-April, the Hornets had hosted “Fan Up Friday” on the final day of each workweek during the team's run in the 2008 NBA playoffs. After the club's postseason came to an end in Game 7 against the Spurs, Hornets staff members learned that instead of Fan Up Friday, today would be known as “Thank You Fans Friday.”

Between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. today, our 100-plus employees, along with Hugo the Hornet and the Honeybees, made visits to five different locations: downtown New Orleans, the Westbank, Metairie, Mandeville on the Northshore, and Harahan. We were each given “Thank You Fans” T-shirts to wear, as well as large white boards to hold up that read “Thank You NOLA” and had the team’s popular Fleur de Bee logo.

I was part of a group of about 20 staff members who displayed those signs at the Harahan location, at the Clearview Parkway intersection near the Best Buy store. This was the first time I’ve ever participated in an event like this, and really didn’t know what to expect in terms of what people’s reactions would be. But it turned out to be one of the most fun things we’ve done all year.

Many of the motorists honked their horns loudly as they passed, or yelled “Go Hornets!” out their windows. Several drivers who were stopped at a red light rolled down their windows on the humid 80-degree day to talk about the team’s memorable 2007-08 season or to ask us about what we were doing.

I saw one driver who was stopped at the light start honking rapidly and yell “Honk if you love Chris Paul! Everyone loves Chris Paul!” A few other knowledgeable-sounding drivers gave me their take on what the Hornets need to do to upgrade their bench next season.

I also spotted an acquaintance who I’ve played pickup basketball with who did not know I was a Hornets employee. When he saw me standing on the median with my sign, his quizzical look made me start laughing. He rolled down his window and said, “Jim? What are you doing?”

Even funnier, one extremely nice older woman looked over and asked me a couple questions about the Hornets. I explained to her what was going on, and that Hornets staff members were appearing all over the New Orleans region to thank fans for their support this season. She looked back at me and said, “Are you guys taking donations?”

“Oh no!” I quickly responded. “We’re not asking for money or anything like that.”

Concerned that some drivers might see us out of the corner of their eyes and get the wrong idea, she then offered me a little helpful advice that I thought was hilarious.

“Well in that case, maybe you should write somewhere on your sign,” she said laughing, “something that says, ‘NOT A PANHANDLER!’ ”