As a French Quarter resident, tourists stopped making an impression years ago. However, as I walked through today's Sugar Bowl crowd, I got surprisingly nostalgic about the University of Hawaii fans from the 2007 Sugar Bowl. Sentimental even. Like missing an old friend.
The Hawaiians were different than the other Sugar Bowl crowds. They were honestly grateful to have been invited to the Bowl. They didn't act jaded or entitled and they spared us the over-amped aggression that often pops out of football crowds.
New Orleanians are known for ignoring even national celebrities so it was surprising that so many locals not only noticed, but also generated a fondness for the Hawaiians. We seem to feel we have more in common with Hawaiians than we do with the Americans of the mainland. I don't recall a single conversation about our obvious similarities - extraordinary Hurricanes (Iniki and Katrina), our water-based isolation or our uniquely regional cultures. No, our mutual respect came because we share an even deeper, unspoken bond.
We both define ourselves based on qualitative factors. We measure the good life by maintaining enjoyable experiences instead of by collecting commercial assets. Efficiency, productivity and sacrifice aren't higher virtues than "giving to strangers." We use beads, they use leas.
Similarly, in that uniquely American sport of football, we both adopted intangible icons to represent ourselves. New Orleans has The Saints instead of a more-typical fearsome animal mascot. The University of Hawaii paraded onto the Superdome field holding a girl aloft on a surfboard. Saints and surfing instead of fear. We understood Hawaiians. And we miss you.
Surfboard image at 01:07
Saturday night midnight until 3am Sunday morning
Music and sound clips from the trash-cana of Americana