The New Orleans experience
On one weekend last month, the opera Carmen was performed at the Mahalia Jackson Theater; nearby the Broadway roadshow of the musical “Wicked” was making a return engagement to the city. That Sunday, the Saints faced the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Superdome—and won.
To have a professional opera, a Broadway show and an NFL game all in such proximity to each other on the same weekend is certainly a sign of a city with a busy agenda. Then there were the various festivals, including Oktoberfest and another in tribute to the beignet, that are among those staged practically on a weekly basis.
In this the month of Thanksgiving we pause to think about New Orleans. We know that there are the usual problems: crime, broken roads, street flooding and poverty. No city is perfect with its offerings. We do know that good cities provide opportunities to live, grow and experience enterprise and culture within an environment that is livable and pleasant. Overall New Orleans does that.
Lately, this city seems to be at an accelerated pace with its amenities, including an enhanced and picturesque sculpture garden and an architecturally dazzling Children’s Museum. A new downtown hospital complex is bringing more health care and more jobs to the city plus triggering economic activity near downtown. Come November, the Saints are not alone in providing professional sports. The New Orleans Pelicans enter their new season as one of the most exciting teams in the NBA, and the venerable Fairgrounds provides its winter season, “at the track.”
For all the wonders of New Orleans, Katrina taught us how vulnerable we can be; yet the recovery underscored our resilience.
Part of that resilience is explained by our character, but, to be fair, a good part of the explanation is due to our being an American city. Though the initial response to Katrina was slow, and federally built levees were part of the problem, in the end it was the resources of the richest and most powerful nation of earth that saved us.
To live in the United States is a gift; to be at home in New Orleans is a blessing.
Thanksgiving is an American holiday, in which a nation shares a common menu, including the obligatory turkey and a pumpkin pie. But for those of us in southeast Louisiana, our menu is embellished by oyster dressing, chicken and sausage gumbo and anything sweet made with pecans. The Thanksgiving table epitomizes that while we are part of the nation and prosper from its benefits, we also have our own character. We experience the best of both worlds. And for that we can be truly thankful.