The Grand Old Lady Throws a Party
For the very first time, after 43 years of angst and frustration, the Saints won the Super Bowl and
brought the Lombardi trophy home to the Grand Old Lady by the River.  And New Orleans
welcomed them in a way that no other city would've - or could've - done.  By some counts, eight
hundred thousand people showed up to say thank you - thank you for so much more than
winning the Super Bowl.  To an area that was still recovering from the worst engineering
disaster in the history of our country, the victory was about more than football.  It's about
perseverance, tenacity and true grit.  It's about enduring, striving and, finally, succeeding, long
after many would've given up.  The team is a reflection of the city and vice versa - the two are
inexorably intertwined in a way that would be hard for someone who doesn't live in the area to
All along the parade route, Coach Sean Payton held the Lombardi trophy in the air with one hand
and with the other, he alternately threw out kisses and touched his heart in an 'I love you'
gesture to the crowds.  The crowds loved right back.  Halfway through the parade, one of the
commentators looked down at the coaches and players interacting with the throngs of people
and said, "I don't think I've ever been witness to such an intense love affair before in my life." To
tell you the truth, I don't know if there ever has been such a love affair before.
New Orleanians tend to be a very emotional group, so, of course, I cried when the Saints won
the NFC Championship and I cried when they won the Super Bowl.  And I cried most of all during
the parade, when a live aerial shot of the parade route, with lights aglow from every downtown
building, appeared on the screen and a commentator said, "I've never seen the city look more
beautiful."  Or, I thought, more alive.  The city, in spite of everything, has survived.  She has a
lway to go, but, it's a good time to reflect on her victories - just as on the Saints' victories - on
what's been accomplished through the hard work of so many.  It's time to do what the Grand Old
Lady has been doing for 300 years and does better than anyone.  It's time to celebrate.
But don't expect this page to be about football.  Nope.  This, my friends, is a love story.
                                                                               -- Nancy
Above & right, quarterback Drew Brees - on a float
with his offensive linemen - gives his arm a workout
throwing beads to the crowd.
Right, Coach Payton, riding on a float with his wife
and children, blows kisses to the crowd.
Top right, an alligator float lines up in
front of the Superdome in advance of
the parade; bottom right, same float
after parade has begun.
Confetti rains down on a float.
Above, Drew Brees shows his dance
moves; top right, centurians stand guard
on a float; bottom right, a float passes in
front of the Superdome.
Fans have left notes of thanks and gifts for Drew Brees on the gate at his house in New Orleans.
A few extras
Ever since the Ursuline nuns first arrived in the
city in 1727, they've been a big part of the city's
life; I love this picture of two nuns
congratulating a Saints player after the NFC
Championship game in the Superdome.
My favorite picture from the Super Bowl - right
after winning, Drew Brees holds his year-old son
high, amid the falling confetti.
I bet this is why he bought a car with a sunroof!
Left & above:  Ten thousand enthusiastic fans met the
team at the airport when they arrived home from Miami.  
Left & above, Coach Payton gives them a look at the
Lombardi trophy, while a cadre of police hold the throng
back from kissing the trophy.  Meeting the team when
they return home from road games isn't an unusual event
- numbers at least in the hundreds and often in the
thousands greet the team when it returns from road trips
- win or lose.  It's a tradition that's unique to New Orleans
among NFL teams.  I was sad to read that only 11 (eleven!)
fans greeted the Colts when they returned after the
Super Bowl.  That doesn't sound like much team spirit!  
New Orleans officials were planning on giving the team
this huge parade in appreciation for the season - whether
they won or lost the Super Bowl.  And hundreds of
thousands would've been there to say thanks for the
season, regardless.  Because we wouldn't want them to
be disappointed - after all, they're,
Sign at the parade - somebody's thinking ahead.
A Streetcar Named Miami - from this year's Barkus Mardi Gras parade.
The photos on this page are thanks to many e-friends who shared with me
New Orleans Lady's Flickr photos; metoo's Flickr photos;
Times-Picayune website; Radio Station 96.1's website; WWL-TV's website