Since the founding of New Orleans by Jean Baptiste La Moyne Sieur de Bienville in 1718, the city has experienced approximately 15,184 weekends. Of those, the weekend of Feb. 6-7, 2010 was surely the best. During a 48-hour period, New Orleanians elected a new mayor and then watched their Saints win the Super Bowl, all happening with the backdrop of Carnival.
Most significant about Mitch Landrieu’s overwhelming mayoral election is that it showed a politically united city.
Despite the ministers, commentators and old-school politicians who have tried to stir up race as a means of clinging to power, the voters knew better. That weekend black voters and white voters were united behind common issues. They settled for the same candidate whose win was so lopsided that it left those who would divide the city like the Indianapolis Colts: stopped near the goal line as time runs out.
Because of the Super Bowl, the election didn’t get the attention it deserved, but it spoke volumes of New Orleans’ maturity as a city. There would be no Saints franchise were it not for the existence of the Superdome, and there would be no Superdome were it not for the vision, stubbornness and risk-taking of some local politicians and businesspeople back in the 1960s. One of those was Moon Landrieu, who early in his career was one of the strategists behind building the stadium. Amazingly, the team that the ’Dome made possible would achieve its grandest moment of success on the very weekend that Landrieu’s son was elected mayor.
Folks in New Orleans partied into the sunrise after the Super Bowl victory, but they did so peacefully because the local police are masters of crowd control, and that’s because of their Mardi Gras experience. There were two Carnival parades in Uptown New Orleans on Super Bowl Sunday, brightening what would be a festive day even before the game began.
No Super Bowl champions have ever returned to a home city with such an infrastructure for celebration. By the time locals ended their weekend, they had reason to feel proud of the town. There will inevitably be troubles and bad days in the future, but the city’s 15,184th weekend was one to be cherished. Fittingly, the halftime act at the Super Bowl was The Who; perhaps destiny’s reminder that when it comes to Super Bowls, no one can say they can beat those Saints.