It seems like a lifetime ago, but three weeks ago, more than 15,000 local UH football fans roamed the streets and restaurants and hotels of New Orleans. It was a godsend for a city still deeply struggling with that force of mother nature and human error known as Hurricane Katrina. It also came at a time when New Orleans kept its top slot as the murder capital of America, per capita. The gracious guests from Hawaii, with the big time need for omiyage and such, certainly provided a brief respite as the Big Easy tries valiantly not to be perceived as the big queasy.
It was amazing to see so many friendly, but chilly, local faces around town. Ti leaves and green beads became standard gear for the visitors and their mainland friends and relatives. In retrospect, no way could this tightly-knit group have stayed so close as a single, cohesive, passionate, excited unit had UH been sent to the Rose Bowl or the Fiesta Bowl. For three or four days, New Orleans became our easternmost island, and it was a wonderful way to end the year. Southern hospitality combined with Aloha spirit created a jambalaya of spicy and meaty memories for attendees in that short, sweet week.
Of course, we know what happened in the News Year's day football game--but it might have been more than just a game, it might have actually been a much-needed wake up call. Hawaii fans answered the call down in New Orleans and left behind a lot of good feelings and money. Hopefully, we all brought something more back home. Think About It.