A year ago today was my last day spent as a resident in Minnesota. What an incredible year it’s been. I thought it was appropriate to write my annual post about New Orleans, the Sugar Bowl, and the shenanigans that ensued, bearing in mind the year that’s occurred between games and states.
My first Sugar Bowl in New Orleans marked the end of something, and at that time I didn’t know where I was headed. I would never have imagined that a year later I would be the second-in-command for the annual Fan Fest and concerts that take place in the French Quarter prior to the game. At that time, I just took it all in and hoped for the best, knowing there was a chance I would never been there again.
But I was there again. And I am so happy I had the experience the year before as a temporary/contracted employee. Not only did that mean I had the experience of being there before, but I had the appreciation of seeing it through two completely different sets of eyes.
I have a love/hate relationship with New Orleans, and every time I visit the love part of that sentiment grows. With an entirely new group of coworkers this year, and one who was sadly on his way out, we had a great team and everyone spent the week living up to the motto “Work hard. Play hard.”
I still don’t know how I do it during these events, 12+ hour work days with a maximum of 2 hours a sleep each night. If I tried to do this here in Chicago, I would be a wreck. Something about being out in a different city, trying new bars, new restaurants and out with new people, you’re able to just keeping going… just keep swimming, just keep swimming…
But seriously. I feel like the damn Energizer Bunny. By the end of the week I no longer have a voice, I can’t feel anything below my knees, my eyes are like slits, and I’m just happy I still have my credit card (and my dignity, well mostly).
The most important thing is, we all produce incredible work during this time. Maybe it’s a job qualification none of us know they’re secret shopping for… Whatever it is, it’s quite a sight to see a group of 25-30 year olds putting on a festival after the legendary nights we have on Bourbon and Frenchman Streets. Have you ever seen a group of people chug hurricanes? And then show up for work at 7:00am? Because I have. And I applaud this awesome group of people I call my coworkers.
Producing an event like we do takes months (and months, and months) of preparation. It’s an incredible thing to take a step back and enjoy it from time to time. One of my favorite parts is watching the crowds of thousands of alumni, students, drunks, etc. come to Fan Fest for the Pep Rallies. It’s such a sight to see. And I love marching bands, mascots and the like…
Obviously, I can’t talk about this time of year without the mention of the bands we bring in to play on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. This year: O.A.R. and Imagine Dragons. I’ve been a fan of O.A.R. since I was about 16 years old, so I was ecstatic. And they put on a great show, like they always have done and always will do.
We all had an idea that Imagine Dragons would be a popular band when we booked them, then the EXPLODED. They were everywhere. We were all watching it unfold and keeping our fingers crossed for a great show. And man, was it a great show. Not only are they a very entertaining and talented band, the crowds were INSANE! Kids were lining up at the front of the stage 6 hours before the first note. It was cold, damp and nasty outside (aka December in NOLA). Traffic stopped, crowds were EVERYWHERE. It was loud and it was a great way to kick off 2014.
And then there was the game… I wish I could say I paid attention to every moment, but it honestly just felt so good to sit down I didn’t have a full attention span to give. Quite the upset though… BOOMER SOONER!
In a few months the cycle will begin again. And I can only imagine with the next year will bring.
If you’d like to see the full-length Imagine Dragons concert from Fan Fest, you can go to http://www.allstatefanfest.com. I suggest watching it, and if you look to the left of the stage you will see me dancing below the jumbotron. Screaming may have occurred too…