This week, friends and family will once again join each other for fun events and activities to celebrate our nation's independence. The traditions that have become such an integral part of our Independence Day festivities are also widely considered reflections of our national identity. Boating, grilling out, shooting fireworks, and catching an outdoor concert are living expressions of the constitutional right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that so many have sacrified their lives for so that we may enjoy.
For myself, the pursuit of happiness often revolves around football, which many times leads to the reality of disappointment (I'm also a Mississippi State fan). Yet, the pursuit continues and a Saints win makes me very happy. As I'm sure many Canal Street Chronicles readers would also agree, that happiness reached it's highest level late in the evening of February 7, 2010, which in my mind is Who Dat Nation Independence Day.
No, the Saints did not have to win their freedom by sacrificing lives and defeating an evil dictator, although now NFL Commissioner Roger Gooddell may be considered one. Rather that night and winning the Lombardi Trophy, was a validation of the faith that Who Dat Nation had in the team and the team had in themselves. It was not a victory over the Indianapolis Colts that had Saints fans dancing in the streets. What was celebrated was the Saints conquering their own history as a struggling franchise and the Lombardi Trophy symbolized that conquest. The Colts were just merely in the way.
Much like the 4th of July is celebrated with family and friends, watching the Saints play in that Super Bowl was a similar experience. I drove over to New Orleans from the Coast while my parents came down from Jackson, and my brother and sister flew in from California and Texas, respectively. Yes, the game would be played in Miami, but we knew where the party would be!
The Saturday night before the Super Bowl, my siblings and I and a few other hometown friends also in town went to the Rebirth Brass Band Pep Rally Concert at the House of Blues where a buddy of mine that I went to Spring Hill College worked. While my college buddy got our group into the HOB Pep Rally, finding a suitable place to watch the game the next day was more challenging. We obviously had the option to watch it at the hotel, but still wanted to be in a group atmosphere, yet not so crowded that we couldn't follow it closely.
About 30 minutes before kickoff, my siblings and I split up in the French Quarter to find an establishment but they were all jam packed. About minutes later my sister stumbled upon a small private party at Tipitinas on North Peters and persuaded them to let us join them. It was the perfect spot and we called our parents and they cabbed over from the hotel and got there right at kickoff.
We all know how the game went, so I don't need to go over it. But when Tracy Porter's interception touchdown return sealed the victory, fans from neighboring bars started spilling out on the sidewalk and hugging each other. Shortly thereafter, when it ended, we set out with the masses for Bourbon Street. The goal was to meet up with a cousin that was at a victory party on an apartment balcony that her friend had rented, so that her friend's 90-year-old mother could watch the game and the action on the street at the same time.
We got separated from each other in the crowd, parents included, but finally arrived at the balcony at about the same time, which happened to be above Chris Owens' Gentlemen's Club. My cousin was out on the balcony talking and pointing in every direction imaginable. After yelling at the top of our lungs for about 10 minutes, she saw us and came downstairs to let us in at the door to the staircase along the side of the building. Standing out on that balcony and looking out at the throngs of cheering people on Bourbon Street, my dad and I just turned to each other and said ,"I can't believe the Saints won the Super Bowl."
The scene really reminded me of an old war movie or textbook photo of a village celebrating a war that was finally over as the oppressed overthrow a dictator. Who Dat nationalism was surging as Stars & Stripes designed flags waving throughout the crowd were recolored in Black & Gold with fleur-de-lis emblems replacing the Stars.
It was more than sports that night of February 7, 2010. It was Who Dat Nation Independence Day and there was not a soul on Bourbon Street that was not standing up and getting crunk, although I'm sure later many of them had laid down and passed out.
Happy 4th of July Canal Street Chronicles readers!