New Orleans : ‘down but not out’

To party, or not to party: That is the question. Residents in New Orleans appropriately responded by turning out by the thousands to celebrate Fat Tuesday.

Bourbon Street roared with life as Louisiana celebrated its first Mardi Gras since Hurricane Katrina.

The storm tore across the Gulf Coast, killing more than 1,300 people and leaving billions of dollars in property damage. New Orleans was one of the areas hardest hit. The city suffered massive flooding as levees broke and water covered about 80 percent of the Big Easy.

Many people were left wondering if the city, known for its Mardi Gras festivities, would have anything to celebrate this year.

Hurricane Katrina was strong, but tradition is stronger and the city’s ritual continued even amid controversy.

Some refugees chased away by Katrina were enraged that the parades took place on Tuesday. They felt the decision to go through with Mardi Gras despite the condition of New Orleans was irresponsible.

But keeping the Mardi Gras tradition alive was the best thing that could have happened. By celebrating Mardi Gras, residents are not ignoring the fact that New Orleans still faces many problems. On the contrary, festivities draw attention to these problems and bring more news coverage to the area.

The parades emphasize the fact that, while the city is making progress, assistance is still needed.

I would hate to see what would have happened if the city had not celebrated.

The event allows residents to get their minds off the past and set their sights on the future.

Filling the French Quarter with people clad in beads and wild costumes is a sign of hope and perseverance.

Not celebrating Mardi Gras would be admitting defeat.

Many residents agree. They came together to show the nation that while they may be down, they are not out. They also have a sense of humor.

Among the costumed people parading down Bourbon Street were locals dressed as tarps, sandbags and levee inspectors.

They were not poking fun at their situation, but rather serving as a reminder of all they have been through.

Not only has Mari Gras helped lift spirits and give residents something to smile about, but the celebration is also a much needed step in the healing process.

It was important for New Orleans to observe Fat Tuesday so the natural process of rebuilding could take its course.

Sitting around and reminiscing about last year would only cause residents further depression. Instead of sulking, the city made the right move in celebrating Mardi Gras. It reveals that they are still proud to be residents of New Orleans.

“Katrina did a lot of bad things. But it has done something to give the residents of New Orleans a fresh love for their city,” Louisiana Mayor, Ray Nagin said.

Mardi Gras brings with it a needed sense of familiarity and security in uncertain times.

The celebration also brings tourists to the area, which will help to revive the struggling economy. If New Orleans is ever to be the prospering city it once was, carrying on with business as usual is necessary.

The goal is not to forget the devastation the city has seen, but to press on toward the future with an optimistic attitude.

Tuesday’s events were certainly heart-warming and inspiring.

The festivities stand as a sign that as the city grows stronger, New Orleans will party on for years to come.

Send comments to Taylor at [email protected]