Opinion

MAROONED

In several places around the world, people like to gather at a massive festival for some good old-fashioned debauchery right before the abstinence-marked Lenten season. Some examples include Rio de Janeiro’s Carnaval, Switzerland’s Fastnacht, and of course, New Orleans’ Mardi Gras (also known as “Fat Tuesday”). The festival of Mardi Gras has become synonymous with beads, floats, massive amounts of alcohol and more than a few Girls Gone Wild videos.

This year’s Mardi Gras celebration, however, was vastly different from preceding years, despite the fact that the processions were carried out as they have always been. It was a unique Mardi Gras-and if you feel I need to state the obvious as to why, let me give you a hint: half a year earlier, a massive amount of wind and water pounded the city, and as a result, New Orleans resembled the swamp around it. Now that the city is dry, and the festivities are now over, the questions come up as to whether Mardi Gras made a difference to the city, and what to do next.

It is my opinion that Mardi Gras was the best thing that could have happened to New Orleans after the horrors of Katrina. The festival did wonders boosting the spirit and morale of the city. New Orleans needed a break from the dreariness and red tape it has endured in the recovery process, and the best way to have done that was by celebrating the most festive two weeks of the year, as has always been done, this time with an additional symbolic element of strength, endurance and lambasting of irresponsible politicians, as seen in the many humorous floats poking fun of Homeland Security, Ray Nagin and President Bush.

It also brought desperately needed tourist money into the city, which can only do good for an economy derailed by the storm. The recovery has been a slow process, and the money brought in during the festival will serve as a nice jump-start that will keep New Orleans going, provided more people and businesses return to the area.

Lastly, this year’s Mardi Gras received a lot of media attention-which will help raise awareness on New Orleans’ current condition. As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, New Orleans is far from being rebuilt. The very nature of the city and her geographical surroundings make the Big Easy’s case drastically different than other hurricane-prone areas, such as Florida. Homestead, certainly, took a while to rebuild after Hurricane Andrew all but wiped it off the map over a decade ago. But Homestead didn’t have to re-strengthen levees or clear up foul, brown gunk from the flooding, as New Orleans will have to do before people will move back. The media’s re-focus on New Orleans will do good to remind people of this.

There are some in New Orleans who say Mardi Gras probably shouldn’t have continued, saying the effort should have gone towards reconstruction. Still others say Mardi Gras could give tourists the false impression that New Orleans was back to normal, and as such, cause them to stop thinking about the city. I can certainly see and understand this, but in the end, I believe Mardi Gras was good for the Crescent City. One needs to only look at the footage on CNN-if anyone needed a good party to forget life’s hardships, even for a moment, it’s these people.

Because we know what it’s like to miss New Orleans. Now, throw me somethin’, mister!

Jay Rooney is a junior majoring in journalism and history, and a 2005 Mardi Gras veteran. He can be contacted at j.rooney@umiami.edu.

March 3, 2006

Reporters

The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

After this past University of Miami football game, coach Mark Richt said the crowd came alive during ...

The attorneys for University of Miami men’s basketball coach Jim Larrañaga expect indictments to be ...

Few could have imagined this scenario coming into Saturday’s University of Miami football game at ho ...

Alex Cora’s success hasn’t surprised Miami Hurricanes baseball coach Jim Morris. Cora, according to ...

A six-pack of Canes notes on a Thursday: • Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz has an interesting theor ...

Univeristy of Miami’s Wynwood Art Gallery holds its annual faculty exhibition featuring thought-prov ...

From a game simulating how whales navigate to a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, the U showcased some of ...

A new mobile game called Blues and Reds, now available worldwide, aims to help researchers study int ...

A major Lancet Commission report, a three-year project headed by UM’s Professor Felicia Knaul and co ...

With a $6.8 million NIH grant, the UM School of Nursing and Health Studies and FIU Robert Stempel Co ...

Behind a historic performance from senior Olga Strantzali, the University of Miami volleyball team b ...

Thirty years ago, the 1987 Hurricanes achieved perfection. This weekend they are back where it all b ...

As a Hurricane Club member, you are invited to participate in the 25th Annual University of Miami Ha ...

The Miami women's tennis team opened play Friday at the ITA Southeast Regional Championships Pr ...

The Miami soccer team will conclude its 2017 home slate Sunday against Notre Dame and recognize its ...

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.