I’ve already spoken about the power going down in the Superdome, but the weekend up to that point ran pretty perfectly. Day 3 of the NFL concert series, we only caught one show – 2012 Grammy winners Rebirth Brass Band. More out-of-towers joined in the festivities but the crowd was still mainly the Who Dat Nation sporting black and gold. We knew all the call-backs and when to thrust our fists in the air and shout, “Hey!” and when to find a tissue and wave it for a second line dance. It struck me as ritualistic like church – the church of funk in the house of soul. As such, I wondered if the visiting teams felt as left out or confused as a Buddhist at Mass but they seemed to be having fun in any case.
Sunday was yet another gorgeous day. The normally serene blue skies were filled with air traffic. At some point we spotted the blimp and 5 airplanes dragging advertisements crowding the horizon. Helicopters also buzzed by. By this time, the streets were bustling with visitors wearing either 49’ers red and gold or Ravens purple and black. With our local stores fully stocked in Mardi Gras regalia in purple, green and gold, the Ravens fans were at a distinct advantage for taking on the spirit of the season and the city – and boy did they! There seemed to be far more Ravens fans than 49’ers and I have heard that they were the more generous tippers.
I lived in Baltimore for a time and, like New Orleans, it is a little big city with a large tourism economy. Like NOLA, they built their stadium in the heart of the city. And like NOLA, the city is filled with stoop-setters who wave at neighbors (heck, here we wave at everyone), sports fans and people who live off of tips. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that the Ravens fans seemed to enjoy our city more and seemed to come in larger numbers.
Papa Grows Funk was already playing when we arrived at Woldenberg Park for our last day of festivities. John Gros and the guys got the entire crowd’s hips moving and hands waving. June Yamagishi absolutely killed it on guitar. At some point John Gros got up from his keyboard and pulled out his camera. As I was taking photos of the band, Gros took photos of the crowd, both of us hoping to capture some piece of Super Bowl Sunday in New Orleans.
Since the Praline Connection‘s Collard Greens were sold out, we got the Gulf Shrimp and Grits ($7) from Fireman Mike’s Kitchen and another serving of the yummy Chicken and Andouille Gumbo ($6) from Brocato’s Eat Dat Catering. The Soul Rebels were playing in front of the food booths so we danced along while eating.
Then it was off to watch the 610 Stompers parade through the French Quarter in a CBS second line to the Superdome. We’d been tipped off earlier by WWL’s Alfred Richard, AKA 610 Stompers’ “Chocolate Thunder.” The parade got held up in front of us for quite some time so we got to watch full routines and when the wait became too long, the parade-watchers joined in for a dance party in the street.
We’d run into a few friends by this point and headed over to Joe Dunn’s gallery after spotting Dunn in the crowd. Having lived in Mobile, Alabama at some point, he and his wife celebrate the season with a giant bowl of MoonPies. Chewing on marshmallow, I remembered my only Mardi Gras in Mobile when I first learned of this tradition and the inconvenient truth that Mardi Gras was first celebrated in Mobile. And what a joy to have friends that own galleries so that even when you’re just standing around talking about the weather (or your plans for Fat Tuesday), you’re doing it surrounded by beautiful images from around town.
Then it was time to grab a spinach pizza from Vieux Carre Pizza and head for the nearest TV to watch the game. Yes, the lights went out at the Dome but the Ravens won as they seemed destined to do from the start and a good time was had by all. My biggest prediction for the Super Bowl had been that even more people would fall in forever-love with New Orleans. I’d say I got it right. With the rest of Mardi Gras around the corner, Muriel’s Jackson Square said it best, “Now back to our regularly scheduled party…”