Super Bowl action in the French Quarter on Friday started out a bit slower than expected for many vendors and street performers, but as the day progressed more and more football enthusiasts and out-of-town visitors began to pour in, filling the bars, restaurants, shops and streets.
“It’s been slow to start,” Claire Grogan, owner of Claire’s Pour House, said around 3 p.m. Friday from her Decatur Street establishment. Grogan said things had really started picking up after 12 p.m., and that in anticipation of the weekend, “We are stocked to the gills.”
The purple pride displayed by Baltimore Ravens fans outnumbered the bright red of the San Francisco 49ers by all accounts, but in terms of team representation, it was the black and gold worn by New Orleans Saints devotees that appeared to dominate either visiting fanbase.
Norco resident Gearldlynn Lucia, decked out in multiple layers of Saints paraphernalia, said she came across a Facebook page that encouraged Saints fans to show their colors on the streets of the French Quarter.
“We’ve got to let them know whose city it is,” Lucia said. Especially important, Lucia said, after “all we’ve been through this year.”
Lucia said she and her husband were enjoying meeting people from all over the world and always love spending time in the city.
At a daiquiri shop on Bourbon Street, a bartender who said she was more of a soccer fan confirmed that it was “the ones in purple” whom she’d seen the most.
Headed back to the hotel for a shower and power nap, Ravens fan Jason Hughes said he arrived at 4 a.m. and started the day at the casino. A Ravens season ticket holder, Hughes said he came as part of a group of six but was among about 300 fans with familiar faces. Hughes said he ran into his brother-in-law at breakfast without knowing he was in town. Ninety percent of the Saints fans he encountered were rooting for the Ravens, Hughes said.
In addition to the black, gold, purple and red, there were a number of other jerseys representing fans who had hoped their teams would be in the championship game. A group of four family members happily wandered Bourbon Street wearing three Denver Bronco jerseys and one Washington Redskins jersey. Joe and Jane Madrid, of Denver, said they purchased their plane tickets before their team’s unanticipated loss and decided to make the trip anyway, also visiting a cousin who lives in New Orleans.
The Madrids said they had been well received by Saints fans, largely because of the Peyton Manning connection.
And, the Madrids said, “There’s always next year.”
Tim Petropulos and Chris McAllister, 49ers fans, said they arrived at midnight, dropped their bags at the hotel and partied until about 3:30 a.m. Catching beads from a Bourbon Street balcony, Petropulos said he was loving his first New Orleans experience. “You can see it on TV and in the movies, but you don’t know what it feels like until you are here. It’s one thing to see it, but it’s another to live it,” Petropulos said, with rum drink in hand.
McAllister said he saw “way too much purple” but was confident that his teams would beat the Ravens just as they had beat the other birds — the Atlanta Falcons. “We’ve never lost a Super Bowl, and we never will,” he said.
At the Funky Pirate on Bourbon Street, bouncer Jonny Black also said the day had been slower than expected and that both sets of fans had been tame. “They’ve been well-behaved so far,” he said. “It’s my job to watch that.”
Of his 49ers making it to the big game, and New Orleans as the host city, “How can you put two better things together?” McAllister said.