WHO DAT! Saints Superbowl Victory Parade

February 9, 2010 in North America, Travelogue, United States

trying on masks in New Orleans

The stars were sprinkled across the velvet skies like the Mardi Gras beads that littered the streets as we walked with tired feet back toward our hostel on Annunciation Street in the Big Easy.  Orion himself seemed to be throwing a football instead of drawing his bow as the streets of New Orleans exploded in Superbowl victory celebration.

Our first day in New Orleans will be hard to top:  visiting the week before Mardi Gras would have been excitement enough.  To pull the big green van into town the day of the Saint’s victory parade was over the top.  We walked almost seven miles, through downtown, along the waterfront and through the French Market, and back through the French Quarter, taking in the local color.  The children examined the flood walls and peered in the windows of shops filled with purple and gold decorations and masks reminiscent of those we saw in Venice a year and a half ago.

with the locals on Charles Street

The parade route began to fill by three o’clock.  We wandered along Charles Street munching the $44 worth of “chicken on a stick” we bought from the “Who Dat” girl with black outlined gold lips who was happy to dance in her chicken truck for us.  The children watched with wide eyes.  A cold wind blew through the city and we huddled in a coffee shop to warm up before finding a spot along the parade route.  The kids remembered the lessons they learned on the Sahara last winter and wormed their way through the dense crowd to stand along the metal barricades and scream their heads off at the football players they’d seen on television just two nights ago.  As the sun went down and the confetti filled the air I stood and chatted with Roger, who offered me a sip of the tequila he had disguised in a black and gold water bottle.  Daniel, the budding baritone opera singer nominated himself my personal bead-catcher when he learned that this was our very first day in the city, yelling so loudly that my ears hurt.

my bead catcher

Being my father’s daughter, I cannot stand in a crowd that big without thinking about stampedes or riot police, however, the amiable crowd adopted our family with ease and soon the little boys had two or three adopted mothers each.  I was especially thankful for this when the float carrying the offensive line of the Saints stopped in front of us and the players filled the streets.  The crowd pressed forward, the barricades bent and many of the semi-inebriated fans poured over the fences.  I need not have worried, they were well protected by the elbows of their rental mamas and Ezra dove to ankle level and busied himself collecting the beads that had fallen between the feat of the fans more concerned with the actual football team than he was.  “This is AWESOME Mom!!” was his comment, hollered above the beat of the rap music pouring out of the bar across the street and the screams of the crowd.  Always the empathetic one, Elisha looked up with big, shining eyes and said, “Mama, I wish the blue guys could be here too….”  Gabe shivered and added string after string of beads to his neck until he looked like one of those African women with the rings around her neck to stretch it out.  Hannah took it all in, dancing along with the baton twirlers, making videos of the marching bands and planning out her next podcast project as she learns to view the world through a lens… just like her Daddy.  As for me… I watched the show, counted heads, laughed at the natives, and stood as close as I could to a seven foot tall man who was putting off a lot of heat.  I may not have watched the game, but I sure loved the party!  “WHO DAT!”