Sunday, February 21, 2010

Christmas, Canada and the New Orleans SAINTS

*Creeps shamefully back onto blog-sphere*

Hello all,

I realize I have been absent from my blog for a good long while now. All I can say is that my schedule has been intense between the two jobs. Since I've now been inaugurated into the world of mobile-blogging I hope that my pattern of blog-dodging can come to an end.

That being said, lots has happened in New Orleans, and in my life, since the end of last year. I had a brief but wonderful trip home for Christmas, though I didn't have much time to get together with friends. It was nice to see a little bit of snow for the holidays--I sometimes find it hard to get into the Christmas spirit when I'm still putting on flip-flops to walk the dog.

Coming home to Canada is always strange for me. You just wake up one day and realize that somewhere else is also home too. Maybe it was the fact that I wasn't allowed to come home for so long, and by the time I had the chance there were things I had forgotten about living there. Anyway, I'm meandering--I wish I could put it in better terms how it feels to be an ex-pat. Some of you must know.

After the trip to Canada, I returned home to the good ol' Who Dat Nation. Saints madness was everywhere in January and February. The store I work at in the French Quarter started making space in our normal selection of local wildlife-oriented art and t-shirts for shelf after shelf of Saints EVERYTHING. You would not believe the things people will buy if it says Who Dat on it. Or has a fleur-de-lis any where. I worked the day before the Superbowl and I honestly thought that someone was going to get trampled--that many drunk and ecstatic fans all trying to grab the last Saints temporary tattoos (which every store ran out of around noon) or Saints-themed hard hat (seriously). We did more business that day than in the two days leading up to Christmas.

Superbowl Sunday was also the Sunday that the Krewe of Barkus Parade happens to fall and instead of canceling it they moved it up the day to make sure people would still come. Krewe of Barkus is the Mardi Gras dog parade and we try to go every year since it's such a hoot. I took quite a few pics this year and so I'm going to give Barkus its own blog post--hopefully I'll have it up in a few days. Also see future blog posts for details of other 2010 Mardi Gras events.

For the big game my brother-in-law, Sean came over, as did my friend Denise. RJ and I had debated staying in the French Quarter for the game, since we were there a couple of hours earlier for Barkus, but in the end we decided that no matter the outcome we wanted to watch the game from the comfort of our couch, rather than behind 200 people crammed into each French Quarter bar. This definitely worked against us later in the evening but we did have a good time.

The game itself was pretty tense for the first quarter--I retreated to the kitchen at one point since RJ and Sean were pretty much swearing at the TV constantly at that point. Just goes to show you should never underestimate a team that wants it as much as the Saints wanted it. We were jumping up and down and screaming and hugging each other before the game was even over.

Once it was a done deal we walked to Canal street to try and catch a street car, only to find a group of about 40 other people who had the same idea, and no streetcar in sight anywhere. We waited there for about half-an-hour, while every car that passed honked like madmen or slowed down to give high fives to everyone waiting at the stop. Canal has three lanes in either direction and a streetcar stop every few blocks, you can imagine what that was like. We'd all been drinking since before Barkus started so driving was out of the question, and though there was some debate about trying to walk to the FQ, the journey was going to take us about an hour each way. In the end we retreated to the house to watch the post-game--sorry to disappoint, readers :)

According to friends of mine that did make it down there, the crowd was so thick that the mounted crowd control police couldn't even move around very much. Fortunately there was only one shooting that I heard of and no one was killed. Considering the numbers that's pretty impressive. The mood of the crowd must have been pretty jovial at that point.

The mood in the city is still very elevated, even a couple of weeks after the fact. It didn't hurt that the Superbowl happened to fall in the middle of the Carnival season. The theme of pretty much every Mardi Gras parade we went to was "Who Dat". There was a giant Saints parade the Tuesday after the game. It took hours for the parade to complete the route since the police had a hard time keeping people from spilling into the street, there were so many. I thought they were going to tear Drew Brees' float apart just to get close enough to touch him--it was almost scary. They also crowned him King of Bacchus a couple of nights later--only in New Orleans would they name a football star a god and actually give him a crown and a chariot :)

It has been amazing being a city like this for an event like this. It's been said before but no one knows how to throw a party like New Orleans!