- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 9, 2010

NEW ORLEANS | Hoarse, hungover and happy, New Orleans woke up Monday wondering whether that Super Bowl thing really happened.

In the French Quarter, stragglers — decked out in Saints jerseys and team colors — remaining from the all-night party turned to coffee and beignets as dawn broke.

Richard Bourland said he came to the city from nearby Gulfport, Miss., hoping to see history made and wasn’t disappointed. The 57-year-old had pulled his first all-nighter “in at least 15 years” celebrating the Saints’ 31-17 victory over the Indianapolis Colts in Sunday’s Super Bowl.

“I came because it is a once-in-a-lifetime event,” Mr. Bourland said as he sipped strong black coffee. “I wanted to experience a miracle and I did. I’m still trying to believe it.”

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Fans had trouble believing the Saints’ Super Bowl victory, the first in their 43-year history — it was, after all, just their ninth winning season. Disbelief did not prevent them from throwing a huge “Lombardi Party,” however.

The team’s big season came four years after Hurricane Katrina flooded 80 percent of the city and destroyed thousands of homes and small businesses.

“After Katrina, everyone was hurting,” said Derek Stevens, 27, who was still on Bourbon Street at dawn. “The Saints was the one thing we had that was positive, that made us hopeful.”

Long-suffering fans throughout the city shot off fireworks, danced in the streets and second-lined down the St. Charles Avenue streetcar tracks.

On Monday morning, Bourbon Street crews worked at dawn to clean up the remnants of the street party that began before the game ended and stretched into the new day.

“It was crazy the whole day,” said Earl Wheeler, 21, a bartender at one of the Bourbon Street clubs. “It was one really good time. Lots of love going around. But I was too busy to watch the game. I’m going home to do that today.”

The victory came a day after New Orleans elected a new mayor and several other city officials. But in the area newspapers there was little besides the Saints.

The New Orleans newspaper, the Times-Picayune, ran a 5-inch headline that said “AMEN.” The subhead read, “After 43 years, our prayers are answered.”

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