Ringing in 2016 with a NOLA New Year’s Celebration

Some people like to ring in the New Year with a bang; innovative cocktails, loud bands, crowds, and a fireworks display preceded by something large dropping from several stories above their heads. Others prefer to hunker down at home with a fancy dinner, a few friends, and a good movie. I’m an unabashed member of the former group so this December 31 found me in New Orleans ready to whoop it up with my husband and two sons, native Louisianians, and fellow tourists. I wasn’t disappointed.

Our afternoon started at the 801 Royal which claimed to have the best with Bloody Mary’s in town. Garnished with giant olives, lemon, lime, and dilly beans, they were a work of art, as well as semi-healthy and affordable. The bar and restaurant have a relaxed, neighborhood pub feeling and conversations flowed along with the drinks.

801 Royal

Next up was the annual Sugar Bowl Parade, featuring a plethora of dedicated high school bands from all over the South, floats manned by enthusiastic people tossing candy, beads, and potholders to the shrieking crowd below, and the requisite fire trucks. Though the game wouldn’t be played until Saturday night, Ole Miss Rebels and Oklahoma State Cowboy fans were already gearing up for it and their passion was contagious. I can truthfully say I have never seen so much orange in one town!

Parade float

Being NOLA New Year’s novices, we neglected to make a reservation for dinner and were repeatedly told there was no room at the inn. Eventually we were able to finagle a table squeezed next to the entryway at Pere Antoine where we enjoyed seafood, a surprisingly flavorful sauce with the traditional red beans and rice, and a high-spirited waitress. Fortified, we parted ways. Who wants to be with their parents (or kids!) on New Year’s Eve?Bourbon Street was everything I expected and more. Sequins sparkled, there was the sound of laughter and music echoing down every side street, and everywhere bright green drinks glowed in oddly shaped containers

http://www.nola.com/drink/index.ssf/2014/07/bourbon_street_hand_grenade_au.html

We people-watched to our hearts content and had many strange and interesting conversations with revelers of all ages. In all my travels, I’ve never experienced anything quite like it!

Around 11:15 we strolled around the periphery of Jackson Square (which the city had wisely locked up for the night) listening to more street music and daring each other to get our fortunes told (we didn’t). We ended up on the banks of the Mississippi River where we watched the Fleur de Lis drop off the Jax building (disappointing) and the fireworks set off over the water (amazing). It was there that we had our most unusual encounter of the night, when a young man in a red, white, and blue Ugly Sweater Suit (see http://www.whatonearthcatalog.com/ ) decided to use the mighty Mississippi as his own personal toilet and wanted to make sure that we all understood how symbolically important it was for him to do this. Once everyone had stopped laughing, we wished each other a “Happy New Year” and started back to the Bourbon Hotel. It was definitely a night to remember and I’d highly recommend it to those of you who need to work on character description for a short story or novel or simply have a well-developed sense of adventure. Great start to 2016!

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