Love New Orleans Style
Donald K. Midkiff is one of the residents I interviewed for Why People Live in New Orleans. When asked why he lives in New Orleans, he replied,
“King Tut! The New Orleans Museum of Art exhibit was a huge success with hours spent in line. Problem? No, not to the people of New Orleans. A spontaneous block party broke out in line with coolers of shared sandwiches and cold beer. ‘Watcha need, darlin’?’ Love, New-Orleans-style, is all about food, family, and events made special by total strangers.”
Gary Wallerman, co-owner of GW Fins mentioned similar thoughts last Wednesday at my book signing that he and co-owner Tenney Flynn hosted:
“At the first French Quarter Festival after Katrina we had a booth at Woldenberg Park. Here we were along the Mississippi River on a beautiful April day with lots of people enjoying the free music that the festival offers. I looked around at the smiles, the food, the music, the shared values, and thought, ‘This is why I came back to New Orleans; this is why we all love being here!’”
Like Gary and Donald, I feel fortunate to live in a place where people make ordinary and even special events larger than the occasion itself by enthusiastically sharing with others. If we asked people who came here to cheer the Saints in the Superbowl game this year, and those around the globe who became members of the Who Dat Nation, they would probably agree. Fun is contagious, especially with people who genuinely enjoy and welcome others.
Tom Neary from New Jersey, one of the “strangers” who made Wednesday’s book signing special for me, gave another unsolicited account of this welcoming spirit:
“I was here when I was 19 years old and was a bit intimidated because, being that age, I didn’t expect particularly good treatment. However, the employee who greeted me in the restaurant asked, ‘May I help you?’ in such a way that it sounded more to me like a genuine question of ‘May I serve you?’ I really felt welcome and respected.
More recently I was here with my grown son and again noted that in New Orleans you get a sense of people who are so giving. My son said to me, ‘I know what it is. There’s no attitude here!’”
My book’s title, Why People Live in New Orleans, seems to prompt the type of spontaneous accounts that Tom and Gary gave last Wednesday evening. If you’d like to tell us why you live or visit here, or if you have other responses to what you’ve just read, please add a comment to this blog.