Perseverance Pays Off

Dear Alex,

I watched the victory parade that New Orleans threw for the Saints  in the grips of contentment, joy, nostalgia and finally I experienced redemption (CNN: 02/02/2010). It was good to see the crowds in New Orleans celebrating the Saint’s magnificent season and its first Super Bowl victory. It was nothing short of a perfect Mardi Gras celebration. As I watched the merriment, I felt a happiness leap from the TV screen into my viewing room. I’ve never found that type of merriment anywhere except in a New Orleans celebration. It evoked a cultural journey I had long forgotten. But this time, it was a good journey from my vantage point. Things I had not seen as a child shone brightly and they tenderly tugged at my emotions in the dawn of my life. But this parade was more than a journey down memory lane, it was a journey fulfilled.

Over the 43 years as a Saint’s fan I wandered, often in circles, in the desert of  “we lost”. On too many occasions I threw the Saints asides, only to take them up the next season. I guess it is hard to walk away from one’s first love. This parade attests that perseverance and hope pays.  Finally, we got to the promise land.

Parades featured many things that evoke pride and joy, in particular marching bands. The New Orleans high school marching bands were wonderful. As a band came into view, it stepped proudly to the culture and history. Each band’s short TV appearance reminded me of our days as band members in New Orleans parades and each sparked a impulse that coursed through my neural network subsiding in the most comforting joy.  That joy purged many depressed frustrations from my memories in the land of “we lost ”. I was redeemed for loyalty.

Did you see the Saint Augustine Marching One Hundred? Of course you did. Their tradition is still in tact. They marched in their usual proud exacting formation. The horn players energetically  high stepping as they fanned their instruments for side to side to the rhythm of their drumbeat. It was a great show. I’ve always envied their discipline, and wished they would mess up. But they never did; neither 50 years ago nor now.

Then came the O. Perry Walker Band featuring its dancing tubas. Its drummers proudly beat their cadence in the showy style in DRUMLINE. Their drum cadence was simple and melodic but quite rhythmic.

Many bands came into view. I would enjoy talking about the effect each had on me then and now.  But I will only mention the Walter L. Cohen Band, our band. They were near of the parade; as always.  The crowd responded to their music as they turned the corner. As in the old days, Cohen’s band is still a crowd pleaser. I suspect the organizers continue to hold the philosophy “leave the best for last” to reward those who remained for the entire show.  As  Cohen’s band exit from sight, even at this writing I can still feel the enthusiasm of the crowd’s applaud – just as they did us. The circle is now complete.

Alex, New Orleans provided us  a rich tradition, a loving culture, and caring environment in which our parents reared us. This victory parade signaled that it has reclaimed its place as one of the world’s finest centers. This statement  sounds unrealistically enthusiastic.  I know I’m biased; but maybe not. Irwin Taranto of San Raphael who was visiting New Orleans during this festive time emailed this description to his brother.

“This city went crazy, more than usual, last night. Yesterday, Sunday, the energy vibes throughout the city was so strong it must have reached Miami. Tomorrow, Tuesday, is a big parade for the Saints. Starts at 4 p.m. a block and a half from our hotel. They are expecting 400,000 people. Between the Saints and Mardi Gras this is a fabulous time to be in NO.”