Danielle's Blog: Unforgettable season ends with an unforgettable celebration

By Danielle Thomas – bio | email

It's Wednesday afternoon and one of my co-workers sees me walking around singing and dancing and asks, "Do you have music in your head?"

I tell him I do. He tells me he stills hears the "Who Dat" song.

We were both at Tuesday's New Orleans Saints victory parade. He was there to work for station. I was there purely as a fan in the crowd. And, oh, what a crowd.

Even with hundreds of thousands of people there, from what I saw everyone was pleasant, thoughtful and in good spirits. People passed strangers on the streets and yelled greetings of "Who Dat" and admiring each others shirts, costumes, etc.

I went with my friends Amy and Cirillo. Cirillo is from Mexico but he is die-hard fan. Sometimes I can get him to scream "Quien es ese?" or "Who Dat" in Spanish. Amy is a NOLA native so I love going into the city with her.

We found parking on Magazine Street around 3:30 pm and walked over to the Ugly Dog for lunch. Weird name, but good food. We then went to catch the parade at St. Charles near St. Joseph. That's where we met up with another friend, Liz.

We got a really good spot standing on the ground in front of some grandstands. We thought the police might make us move, but they didn't. I guess everybody was too happy.

Then the parade started, I've never seen so many motorcycles in my life as when the New Orleans motorcycle cops went by. It was local police, state police, police on horse back, but not in an intimidating kind of way. People cheered them.

The new mayor, the military and the NOLA fire department rolled through. One firefighter got on his loud speaker and started a "Who Dat" chant in the crowd. Then he started in with "Colts on the ground. Colts on the ground. Looking like a fool 'cause the Saints put you down." That got a lot of chuckles.

I had my own rhyme, "Have you heard the news? Manning's got the blues. His daddy had to tell him, 'Son, you're gonna lose."

There were a lot of high school bands there. These young people did a tremendous job. I was proud of them.

The male dance troupe was hilarious. K-Gates rocked the crowd with his "Black and Gold" song. Some people in the crowd had boom boxes blasting "Stand Up and Get Crunk." I almost didn't have the heart to tell Amy what the correct words were as she was happily singing "Bring Home the Game Ball."

Of course, the players were the highlight. Some of them, including Jonathan Vilma, got off the floats to mingle. The crowd, myself included, ran into the street to greet them. People weren't rude on pulling on them or anything. I got a couple hugs, pictures and Jonathan Casillas signed my championship shirt. I let a few people borrow a permanent marker so they could get autographs, too.

Reggie Bush's float sent the crowd into the street again. I got right up to his float and filmed him rapping "Hot in Here." I saw my favorite Saint who is Marques Colston on a float. He's even more handsome in person. (You didn't hear it from me, but Krystal Allan's favorite is Darren Sharper. )

Drew Brees was up really high. I actually caught some beads he threw. That was awesome!! I can brag that I've caught a completed pass from Brees.

The kicker Garrett Hartley's float was a huge shoe. I immediately thought this is our glass slipper Cinderella story.

I was so excited when Coach Sean Payton rode by holding up the Lombardi trophy that I didn't roll my camera. Luckily my friend Amy got the photo.

Amy told me this was the best parade she's ever been to, and she's been going to this stuff for decades. She said for once no one cared if they caught anything because they were so happy just to see the players. Speak for yourself, Amy. I went home loaded with beads.

Of course, the reporter in me asked one of firefighters about the crowd size. He said he had no idea, but he'd been in a lot of parades and he'd never seen anything like it. He said the crowd was 40 people deep.

The devious part of me called WLOX and told one of the producers, "Hey, I'm at the parade. Wish y'all were here." And I did wish every Saints fan could be there for an unforgettable moment for all of us who dare to dream and never give up.


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