By: Eric SanInocencio
SEC Digital Network
New Orleans, La. -- There is no real way to describe it.
After walking through the madness that is the Bourbon Street experience last night, I'm still not quite sure what I saw. Trying to put into the words the famous eight block section of the French Quarter is nearly impossible, because there is nowhere else in the United States that is truly like it. Bourbon Street is part Las Vegas, part Amsterdam and on this particular weekend home to the biggest SEC block party in the country.
Founded at the same time the city of New Orleans was in 1718, the scenery of the French Quarter gives you a historic feel that can easily place you back in the era of its origination. This area is home to many restaurants, numerous bars and an energy from the patrons that is all its own. So when I was deciding what to do with my Saturday night, the choice to go emmerse myself among that walkway was pretty easy.
Today I couldn't be more happier that I went.
With the Saints having just captured a victory in the NFL Playoffs, fans of both teams in the BCS Championship Game and the hometown team quickly descended on the popular tourist area, clad in team colors that stretched as far as the eye could see. The connection of three different fan bases (Alabama, LSU and New Orleans Saints) made for an unmistakable color scheme, as all groups were overly excited to tell you who they represented.
Most historic places you visit often have some form of interaction needed, a kind of forced way that you can be a part of the history of where you are. Think about traveling to the White House, or even taking a trip to Alamo. In order to truly remember your experience, you have to take a picture, or tell someone about your trip.
On Bourbon Street that isn't the case. You don't have do anything at all to be connected to the party. All you have to do is stand there. The comraderie is built through being there, sharing the same space with legions of people you have never met before. Once you have been to Bourbon Street, you are instantly connected to everyone that has ever walked those narrow streets. That's what makes it unique.
I did more than stand though, taking an adventure down each block and soaking in the ambiance. That wasn't particularly easy, with so many people present the fastest you could move was a slow stroll. You had to keep your head on a swivel, making sure you knew where you were going, while also keeping an eye on the aerial assault coming from above.
Oh yes, they throw beads here.
Nearly every building has a balcony on Bourbon Street, which last night featured an overflow of fans. Their favorite pastime is showering patrons below with Mardi Gras beads, a way to connect that can hurt if you aren't paying attention. Like I said, Bourbon Street keeps you on your toes.
SEC fans added even more to the mix, as you couldn't go a few feet without hearing a "Roll Tide" or "L-S-U" chant. Mostly tame, the groups took turns shouting at each other, as if being louder ensured that their teams would win Monday's game. I just scooted by, a smile on my fave as I realized that the SEC had effectively taken over what is normally one of the biggest parties in the United States.
I saw police horses, drink glasses taller than me, and a scene that LSU and Alabama fans will talk about for years. After getting home, I shook my head, trying to comprehend what I had just saw. After a while, I decided understanding Bourbon Street wasn't the reason I went.
The experience was all I needed.