Saints fans filled the streets in jubilation as the Saints won their first NFC Championship in the franchise’s 43 years existence. The scene was chaotic, like a Mardi Gras parade snaking it’s way through the city.
This celebration was 43 years in the making. Those who were there to witness it, and many will claim they were there, will never forget the moment Hartley’s kick sailed through the upright. A wave of euphoria swept the end zones and spread like wildfire across the stands. Fans stayed almost an hour after the game, not wanting to leave the scene of something so historic.
“I just remember screaming right when I knew it was going through & not stopping for about 10 minutes. I was just so happy,” said an elated Krystal Pennuto, a native of Kansas who has fallen in love with the city and the team since she moved to New Orleans in 2007.
The party outside the Superdome was just getting started as I left the Dome. Cars were honking nonstop as I walked down Poydras towards Carondolet St. Will Smith’s “Welcome to Miami” and the Ying Yang Twins’ “Halftime (Stand Up and Get Crunk)” blasted from stereos my entire walk down to the French Quarter. No, I did not make it to Bourbon Street, but I imagine it was crowded like Mardi Gras day. Those are the days were you and your group of friends have to hold hands the entire 15 minute walk across the block or else get lost. I believe the stories I heard that waiters were jumping up and down the empty streets of Bourbon as Hartley’s kick sailed true. Minutes later, it was a different story.
More screams of “Who Dat!” and “Black and Gold Super Bowl!” greeted every walker downtown to their final destination. Mine just happened to be a seafood restaurant named Deanie’s, sight of the local radio post game show. The place was packed as usual. It took me a while but I finally found my friend Mikey, a regular who always gets us a great spot for the show. I don’t think I’ve ever hugged another man like that in a while.
The crowd at Deanie’s was jovial, tired but exuberant. How could you not be? We all drank and ate ( I reccomend the Bucktown Boil Pizza) until the wee hours of the night. I shared stories, beers, and of course this blog with my new friends of section 618 and a couple of hundred more new friends as well. Chants of “Who Dat!” filled the room all night. The loudest chant came as former Saints quarterback and founding father of the Who Dat Nation Bobby Hebert made it to Deanie’s after finishing up festivities at the Dome.
Our evening ended with a brass band finding a small corner of crowded Deanie’s. The entire restaurant burst out singing as the band played “When the Saints Go Marching In.” It was a magical moment to say the least.
They say there are three things that unify New Orleans like nothing else can- Mardi Gras, music, and the Saints. Nothing was more true than that moment as we sang with the brass band. You could define everything this city has been through in that moment. We’re a resilient city, just like our team was on the field that night. We supported our team through thick and thin and they rewarded us with a reason to celebrate. Give us a reason to celebrate and we will.
How could you not celebrate? Pigs flew. Hell froze over.