To tell you the truth, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived in New Orleans for this year’s Mardi Gras festivities. As I do with any getaway, I did my research before I left and found out that popular areas such as the French Quarter and Garden District were up and running, ready to accommodate tourists once again. I hadn’t been to NOLA since pre-Katrina times and was eager to see this rebirth with my own eyes.
I wondered if the contagious spirit of this vibrant city would infuse its visitors just as it did in the past. Would the courtyard at Pat O’Brien’s still be packed with intoxicated tourists who go there to knock back a Hurricane or two before begging for beads on Bourbon Street? Would freshly baked beignets topped with heaps of powdered sugar still beckon patrons to Café Du Monde’s canopy-covered patio? Would jazz musicians dot the sidewalks, propelling those make-you-wanna-dance tunes through the air for all to hear? Basically, would all-things-NOLA still make New Orleans, well, New Orleans?