NEW ORLEANS — More than a day has passed since the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl, but the party is far from over. Everywhere you go, people are talking about “the boys” — Drew Brees and Co. In a city that has known far too much sorrow over the past few years, finally there is a reason to smile again.
Who can blame residents for wanting to laissez les bon temps roulez a little longer? For those who missed the party Sunday night — and what a wild party it was, in the French Quarter at least — there will be another chance today beginning at 5 p.m. as the streets turn black and gold once more, this time with an official parade featuring the team, as well as the original Saints mascot and local school bands.
Attendees had better plan on arriving early. Thousands of fans surged to the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport Monday afternoon to greet the team’s plane, and even more are expected to hit the parade route today. Think of it as Mardi Gras, Saints-style.
Indeed, the parade will have a decidedly Carnival flair, thanks to an unprecedented joining of 10 Mardi Gras krewes, which have donated floats for the event. Festivities will begin at the Louisiana Superdome on Poydras, then turn right onto Loyola Avenue before snaking down Howard Avenue, around Lee Circle, then up St. Charles to Canal Street. A special staging area will be set up at the foot of Convention Center Boulevard, where partygoers can shout “Who dat!” long into the night.
So is the Saints’ first Super Bowl victory just another excuse for Party Central to throw a blowout, or is there something deeper at play here? Slidell resident Ed Hardy says it’s about appreciation for a team that could have moved permanently to San Antonio following hurricane Katrina, but instead, chose to return home.
“We want to show them they have all the support in the world they need right here,” said Mr. Hardy Monday at the Waffle House in Slidell. “They don’t need to go anywhere else. People here have been hungry for anything [since Katrina]. It’s been a healing process, and it helps. Anything right now helps.”
Still, it may be a long time before the city comes down from this high. As one reveler was heard saying in the French Quarter Sunday night: “Work? There’s no work tomorrow. It’s All Saint’s Day!”
Apparently, surrounding city leaders agree. If you have business in New Orleans, Slidell, or surrounding areas, you may want to finish earlier in the day. City of Slidell offices will close at noon in order to give employees the chance to attend the parade, and Orleans Parish public schools will close at 1:30 p.m.