Greetings from New Orleans!
This is a city that thrives on tourism, especially in a post-Hurricane Katrina atmosphere. After Voodoo Fest and Halloween in October, the travel and tourism business slowly dwindles to a full-on stop come the first three weeks of December, a dreaded time of year for business owners who look forward to the upswing of Christmas and bowl season.
This year, the MTSU Blue Raiders football squad and fans were here to kick off the party in style for the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl against the Golden Eagles of the University of Southern Mississippi.
Blue and white filled the streets of the French Quarter the third weekend of December, though it was difficult to tell from a distance which fans were MTSU supporters and which were Dallas Cowboys fans, in town Saturday to play the New Orleans Saints.
Having all that blue and white about might’ve worked against the Saints, who sadly lost their undefeated record to the Cowboys that night.
But Blue Raider fans were brimming with excitement in the lobby of the Marriott Hotel, which served as base of operations for all things blue, on Saturday afternoon in anticipation of the second line parade.
Second line parades are a long-standing New Orleans tradition, full of revelers who follow a brass band down the parade route, dancing and singing and waving their hankies in the air. Filled with the spirit, as they say.
Led by the Storyville Stompers Brass Band, the celebrators spilled out onto Canal Street in a raucous “M-T-S-U” chant, encompassing about six city blocks on the march down to beautiful Miracle on Fulton Street, which was filled with blue and white decorated Christmas trees and fleurs de lis hanging from the ceiling, complete with falling snow.
The second line parade was monumental for me, a proud MTSU graduate and ‘Boro townie, to be in my adopted city on its most recognizable street chanting, “It’s great . . . to be . . . from Middle Tennessee!”
Yes, indeed it is.
Never was that more evident than when we stepped into the Louisiana Superdome on Sunday night for the game. Our fans almost outnumbered those of Southern Mississippi, although they didn’t have nearly as far to travel.
And we were certainly louder!
Ladies in sparkly masks and feather boas, gentlemen covered in blue, white and silver Mardi Gras beads—this game was definitely unlike anything ever seen at Floyd Stadium.
The Band of Blue showed out, playing loud and proud. And the Blue Raiders played like a team honored to be on the field of the legendary Superdome as well as their second bowl game in history and the crowd roared with the thrill of it.
Fellow alumnus and Nola transplant Brooke Newsome shared the experience with me, saying, “It’s so hard to put into words what a great feeling it was to be in New Orleans at the SUPERDOME watching my Alma Mater! I have always been proud to be a Blue Raider, but seeing them LIVE, fighting for the championship, made my heart swell! GO Big Blue!!”
As we eyed the trophy the team brought home, Brooke and I were well aware we’d witnessed history. Though neither of us gets back to Murfreesboro often, it was a pleasure to have a little bit of the ‘Boro brought to us.
Thanks for bringing us a taste of home, boys, and for a game well played.
Congratulations, Blue Raiders!