As Saints Near the Super Bowl, New Orleans Is Abuzz
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
With their team headed up to Chicago to play for a spot in the Super Bowl, Saints fans in New Orleans are feeling pretty good. And that's a welcome change after the struggles the city has faced.
Here is reporter Molly Peterson.
MOLLY PETERSON: Anybody in McCarthy's takeout on Broad Street would tell you they've got some of the best fried chicken in this town and that New Orleans has the best football team in the NFC.
Unidentified Woman #1: Hood it.
Unidentified Woman #2: Hood it.
Unidentified Woman #1: We're (unintelligible)
Unidentified Woman #2: (unintelligible)
Unidentified Woman #1: We're going to get it. We're going in, too.
Unidentified Woman #2: We're going to the Super Bowl.
PATTERSON: Annel Winston(ph) waits in line for her five-piece lunch, wearing, of course, a Saints' shirt. She says she's fixing up her own house after work and she needs football as a break.
Ms. ANNEL WINSTON: We're going through a rebuilding process, but in that process we also have to live our lives. And to be able to do something other than going and renovating your house and cleaning around your house, that's something to take your mind off for just a little while.
PATTERSON: Over near the bayou, the Parkway Tavern's noontime crowd draws contractors and cops, hippies and neighbors, all Saints' fans, this weekend, at least, even those who aren't die-hard. Like David Fedeloro(ph). He inspects buildings for the city.
Mr. DAVID FEDELORO: We're not worried about rebuilding houses. We're worried about going to the Super Bowl. Well, it's right that somebody said we're like the Jews in the desert for 40 years, you know. We're finally gonna get to the Promised Land.
BLOCK: Devon Aaronson, wearing gold and black beads, says the game this weekend isn't an escape from reality. It's an inspiration for it.
Ms. DEVON AARONSON: I feel right now an overall sense of yes, we believe, we believe. If you're talking about the city being slow about coming back after the hurricane, I'm seeing a lot of improvements. And I'm predicting that we're going to win by at least a touchdown, at least.
BLOCK: Aaronson says Saints fever is bigger than the game or the sport, bigger than the city or the state.
Ms. AARONSON: Oh, it's not just here. It's all over the country. I work for the company that has employees all over the world. And just this week, talking to employees throughout the U.S. alone, everybody that I've spoken to is cheering for the Saints.
BLOCK: Down the bayou, Kim Marselan(ph) is eating a Saints cupcake her coworker brought from a nearby café. Grinning ear to ear, she says she really believes this season was sent by God.
Ms. KIM MARSELAN: I think it's hope. It's our rainbow.
BLOCK: Marselan knew nothing about football last year. This year, she bought season tickets. She praises quarterback Drew Brees and other players for getting involved in the city. It's inspired her.
Ms. MARSELAN: And I think that I'm getting more done in my life and I see other people getting more done in their lives. When I go out and meet new people or see people, we're constantly talking about the Saints and we're energized when we're talking about it. So we're able to do more.
BLOCK: This weekend though, Marcelan says the whole city has just one thing to do - cheer.
Molly Peterson, NPR News, New Orleans.
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