Whatever Happened to the Class of ’02?

There is something frightening about the year 2002 already being nostalgic. More frightening, though, are the reasons why the year, isn’t entirely sweet in sentiment, in retrospect. Ten years ago, our annual People to Watch feature was in our July issue. The world was still reeling over what, by then, was commonly called “September 11th,” which had happened only 10 months earlier.

As horrific as that was, we in greater New Orleans would have another disaster only three years and a month or so later when the levees broke.

When looking at anniversary classes of People to Watch, there are some that became losers and others who became achievers. What is curious about the 2002 class is that many are not around. Names such as Ryan Rolette, Karen Carlson, Joe Sanchez, Dan Rajkowski and 3 Ring Circus – three gals with a dedication for staging traveling art shows – are seldom spoken. Their memories have faded we suspect, not because of any shortcomings on their part, but because by the time of our recovery, names and ideas had been reshuffled to be replaced by new groups of urban pioneers who would prove to be watchable in their own way.

We have never claimed that People to Watch is linked to sainthood, so that when we acknowledged Renee Gill Pratt who had recently been elected to the city council, time would prove that the U.S. Attorney was correct in watching the now-convicted former council member closely. Another then-new councilmember, Jay Batt, would find that post-Hurricane Katrina politics included outspoken neighborhood activists who had other ideas about who should serve.

Our cover image featured two guys, Bill Hines and Alex Martins, who were being honored for attracting the Charlotte Hornets of the NBA to New Orleans. The Hornets saga would have more ups and downs than a ball being dribbled down a court, but a decade later seems to have stabilized. Their work, which once seemed destined for naught, seems to have paid off.

We know that history can be such a tease. Among the honored people were Ashley Bowman and Drew Ramsey, who were being celebrated for being the third generation of management at Hubig’s pies. (Among the proposed modern innovations: selling pies via the Internet.) Ramsey was in the news lately, standing before the smoldering ruins of the company’s factory, proclaiming that Hubig’s would return.

And so it goes. We wish the class of 2012 well, and may readers of the future marvel at what great selections they were. And may man and nature offer no distractions.

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