By some miraculous turn of events a few CubicleGMers ended up watching the Superbowl from the French Quarter (ya know, in New Orleans). To give shout-outs where shout-outs are due, it all started when a good friend of the Cubicles, we call him E, and his significant other, we call her V, moved down there several months back. Their trials and tribulations have been thoroughly (sparsely?) documented. Combine that with a few yuppies trying to meet up with old (young?) college friends, mix in a major winter storm in the mid-Atlantic and you have all the makings of canceled flights, dirty laundry being, and seeing the Saints win the Superbowl from inside the most fun quarter mile to be found in the US, and possibly anywhere.
I’m not here to review the trials and tribulations of the game itself, nor the lack of facial expressions of Jim Caldwell. I’m certainly not here to lament the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the city and what this game/team means to the city. I’m merely here to share what is currently a no-doubter top five sports memory for me. Impressive feat given that the Saints aren’t even a team I root for.
The key difference between New Orleans and Vegas is the history and culture of New Orleans, and that culture permeates through everything the city has to offer. Instead of sterile, cookie cutter chain hotels and restaurants, the culture seeps through everything, everywhere, and everyone in New Orleans. Its best restaurants and bars pride themselves on this history. The famed Hurricane is a relic of when Rum was cheap and easily accessible in the 1920s. The Napoleon House was opened in 1914. And so it goes. The laid back, enjoy-the-moment-lifestyle is adopted by all city inhabitants – from those that have lived there for many generations to the transplants to the tourists. Its not only about partying and having a good time, its about a way of life, a culture, that has manifested itself since the late 1700s.
The Saints as a team have been embraced in much the same way by the city. Just as how its inhabitants bleed New Orleans’s culture, they live and breathe the Saints, unlike any other city/team that I have seen. We stopped at restaurants that were closed as the proprietors went to Miami for the game. We found others that were closing Tuesday afternoon for the Parade – and that was before the game had even been played (parade was planned win or lose). Landing in New Orleans Thursday evening spurred an impromptu ‘Who Dat?’ chant with most of the plane partaking.
A halftime stroll down to Bourbon St (we watched the game a few blocks away at a party) had a similar feel to the calm before the storm. The team was down four, but the vibe was joyous – people genuinely happy to be enjoying the moment; satisfied. Bars were projecting the game on the sides of buildings, as people strolled from bar to bar during halftime. The ambience, the passion, left us tourists no choice but to jump on the bandwagon.
Pierre Thomas’s touchdown and again Porter’s led to huge eruptions. Roars could be heard from parties across the street. As the clock ticked to zero, the masses flooded to Bourbon St. Over twenty consecutive blocks of ecstatic people high fiving, hugging, Who Datting! Pop into a bar, grab a drink, and continue the march towards Canal St. Utter happiness, utter content. I got the feeling, though, that things wouldn’t have been much different had the Saints lost rather than won. The city soaked up every moment of this season, and enjoyed it for what it was. That’s NoLa.