Party fatigue in New Orleans?

San Francisco ChronicleFebruary 2, 2013 

— Here’s a stunner. Even New Orleans thinks this might be too much partying.

Nola, of course, whoops it up with an enthusiasm unknown to much of mankind. But this schedule of a week of Mardi Gras, a week of Super Bowl and then another week of Mardi Gras, is party-geddon.

“As far as I know, it has never happened in the history of Earth,” said New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas.

Serpas, like many civic leaders, is confident the city can carry this off. But some French Quarter residents and merchants say it is time to think about slowing the roll of the good times. And, sorry to say it, football fans, but this is about you.

“I live in the French Quarter,” said Carol Allen, president of the Vieux Carre Property Owners, Residents and Associates, a group that promotes the preservation of the French Quarter. “I love Mardi Gras. I never leave the French Quarter during Mardi Gras. But I am leaving town … I am not going to listen to a potential group of loudmouth, drunken (fans).”

New Orleans residents say that, for all you’ve heard about Bourbon Street during the two-week Mardi Gras, they have that event down pat. The cops police the crazies, and the locals know to attend the giant parades in the suburbs and surrounding neighborhoods.

But those sports fans …

“During Mardi Gras, everybody is just enjoying the costumes,” said Annie Flettrich, executive director of the French Quarter Business Association. “What I hear from residents is that the sports fans are worse because of the yelling and whooping.”

Now, this isn’t all the fault of the fans. New Orleans has now hosted a Super Bowl 10 times. So locals have a pretty good fix on how it has changed. Quite a bit, they say.

“Unfortunately, the Super Bowl has become a mostly corporate event,” said Jeremy DeBlieux, president of the French Quarter Merchants. “I remember in 1978, Denver played Dallas here. Denver’s defense was the ‘Orange Crush,’ and I remember there was this sea of people dressed in orange all over the stadium. You don’t see that now.”

Robert Watters is a former international tax attorney who now runs two adult-entertainment clubs on Bourbon Street. He’s also the pilot of his private plane. But good luck landing at the small private-plane airport near town during Super Bowl week, he said. Two of the three runways are closed and four of the five taxiways are for parking corporate jets.

Super Bowl parties are private extravaganzas, with the emphasis on “private.”

“You need credentials to go anywhere,” Flettrich said. The list of entertainers, from Justin Timberlake to rapper Pitbull, is amazing. Unfortunately, the average fan, who scraped together airfare and a ticket in the third deck, won’t be on the guest list for those parties.

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