New Orleanians hardly need an excuse to celebrate – partying, costuming and fêting are all within arms’ reach.
From Carnival to masquerades to parades, we’ll jump at any chance to dress up and wind down, escaping into repercussion-less alter egos and disguises.
If there’s another universal love among the locals besides costuming, it’s the Saints. We exalt our team to the level of its namesake, attributing almost reverent love and support to our home team. But, in true New Orleans fashion, we also supply an equal amount of irreverence: raucous parades, drinking, debauchery – all to celebrate “our boys.”
On Sun., Oct. 31, the planets align as the timeless traditions of Saints games and costuming collide; the Saints play the Pittsburgh Steelers on Halloween night. There are almost too many great things to do around town – places to go, wild outfits to don, celebrating to be done. Halloween is already an event to behold, another welcomed excuse to blaspheme, revel and embrace the delightfully dark. But combine the hallowed holiday with a worship-worthy sporting event and you have one combustible night.
The first step in gearing up for this mega-event is securing an outfit. Trick-or-treaters will likely want to convert a Halloween get-up into black and gold, and the possibilities are endless. Here are a few places around town to secure a ghoulish Who Dat costume:
New Orleans Party and Costume (705 Camp St., 525-4744) is a one-stop shop for someone planning a Halloween-themed Saints party. They offer accessories, hats, make-up, masks, wigs and shoes, not to mention balloons and other party-planning necessities. “We have quite a bit of black and gold stuff this year,” says Amy O’Hara, manager. “We decorate hats and make ladies’ head pieces. We’re definitely going to have Saints-related black and gold costumes.”
For the hard-core Saints fan looking for a custom-made costume, Carl Mack Presents (223 Dauphine St., 949-4009) and sister business Okereda offer such services. “We’re actually doing a lot of custom costumes,” says Jack Craft of Carl Mack. “We’re costume rental. A lot of these real die-hard Saints fans have a character. That’s been a major thing.” One of the characters he’s seen lately is the black and gold Grim Reaper, but the most popular request is for Saints-style jester costumes. “People want to just look like crazy Saints fans,” he says.
Those looking to go more Saints than Halloween can check out Black and Gold Sports Shop (2106 Veterans Blvd., (800) 989-2646) for a replica jersey, authentic on-field helmet, Super Bowl paraphernalia and even Saints logo Silly Bandz.
A more practical and affordable option to custom-made costumes would be to visit a second-hand store and assemble vintage pieces to form a unique costume. Miss Claudia’s Vintage Clothing & Costumes (4204 Magazine St., 897-6310) boasts hidden gems from the 1950s, ’60s, ’70s – pretty much every major fashion era for the past half-century. Funky Monkey (3127 Magazine St., 899-5587) and On the Other Hand (8204 Oak St., 861-0159) are other convenient stops on the hunt for a vintage costume.
Once the Halloween costume is set, the next important step is figuring out where to watch the game. This being a drinking town with a football problem, the best option would be a local bar. There is sure to be no shortage of places broadcasting the game, but there are a few that stand out:
Finn McCool’s (3701 Banks St., 486-9080) is a sports-viewing staple. From the World Cup to the Super Bowl, it runs the athletic gamut. Besides showing every Saints game, Finn McCool’s also features several Halloween specials, transforming itself into “Finn McGhoul’s.” “We’re actually going to be doing our Halloween black and gold party,” says Finn’s Pauline Patterson. The evening will also feature a black and gold costume contest and a best Saints fanatic contest at halftime. “Afterwards we’re having Halloween karaoke,” says Patterson, who also plans to offer complimentary ghoul-themed food. “It’s a great place to come watch,” says Jen Arrington of Finn McCool’s. “It’s always cheap and fun.” The bar holds cook-off competitions during every Saints game, with halftime shows that feature singing and dancing competitions among the patrons.
Tracey’s (2604 Magazine St., 897-5413) was born in early September after a second-line from Parasol’s to the new site. “I’m just moving everything four doors down,” says owner Jeff Carreras. “I don’t want to change anything. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” Carreras expects to host the usual festivities for Halloween. “I’m sure there will be some kind of costume throwing-down,” he says. But the main event will be the game. “We’ve got Direct TV. I show all the games top to bottom – every professional game and whatever’s on ESPN Game Plan for college, we show all that, too.”
For both proximity to the Superdome and its players, venture no further than 11 blocks from the stadium. “We’re the home away from ’Dome,” says Deborah Schumacher, general manager of Lucy’s (701 Tchoupitoulas St., 523-8995). “We’re what we like to call the over-the-top bar.” Lucy’s reached viral fame when a video surfaced of Super Bowl MVP and Saints quarterback Drew Brees leading Lucy’s patrons in a rowdy cheer of the famous pre-game chant. “I think you can probably hope to see that and more,” Schumacher says. “I’d be shocked if you didn’t.” Lucy’s also offers a private party room upstairs called “The Attic” that features a buffet and full bar package for $100 per person.
Another nightlife institution in New Orleans is music. Even when the focus is on the Saints, Jazz is an omnipresent force to be reckoned with. Ernie K-Doe opened Ernie K-Doe’s Mother-In-Law Lounge (1500 N. Claiborne Ave., 947-1078) in 1994, one jazz legend begetting another. K-Doe is best known for the song “Mother-In-Law,” the namesake of his lounge and a song that he said will last until the end of time “because someone is always going to get married.” Though the R&B legend passed away in July 2001, his legacy lives on in his music and in his club, now run by his daughter, Betty Fox. The Mother-In-Law Lounge provides a place to enjoy live music as well as the Saints – two slices of New Orleans history.