Great food, fun and football - that’s New Orleans
We arrived home from the Sugar Bowl on Thursday and it is nice and warm. New Orleans is great, but it's not home.
We left for New Orleans on the Friday before the game. and flew eight hours directly to New Orleans. We soon got over the jet lag and became members of the sea of green in the French Quarter. Everywhere were green-clad University of Hawaii fans walking, eating, exchanging shakas and just having a good time. Singing Hawaiian songs led by Willie K by the hundreds in front of Johnny White's restaurant on Bourbon Street was chicken skin! We were ready to cheer the Warriors.
Few red-clad Georgia fans were to be seen until the 30th. Their drive time was eight or nine hours, or a two-hour plane ride. We came more than 4,000 miles, 25,000 Hawaii fans, all in Hawaii attire on the streets. We were the story in "N'arlins." We did travel well and aloha was everywhere we went.
This magical time was so grand and delicious. The flavors of the Big Easy are so ono that we all ate all the types of gumbo and entrees they could throw our way. We went to the Gumbo Shop and were amazed by the good everything. Many visitors took tours and we were no exception as my friend, formerly of Hawaii, drove over and we went to the eco-tour in the swamp. Then lunch at a local diner that had alligator sausage - broke da mouth good.
The people of Louisiana were always gracious and happy to see all the Hawaii tourists. New Orleans now knows our aloha. Many will visit Hawaii soon.
Their New Year's Eve was tremendous as the town broke out with fireworks everywhere and a barge on the river shot off a barrage of midnight celebration for 25 minutes. We could see right outside our hotel's big view of the Mississippi on the 11th floor lobby. A fun night. They shoot off legal aerial fireworks everywhere the eye can see. Big eye candy with masks and all types of costumes. Hard to find a restaurant not filled to the gills. Went to Brennan's the next day for breakfast and choke da food! So much yummy in a short time.
The week was filled with one special occasion after another. Parades, free events and fan get-togethers. Two Hawaii New Year's events were very different, as the Nakoa sold-out evening had poor reviews by some who attended in standing room only and food at 10. Willie K and Vili had a separate venue without food and had raves. All helped the Big Easy, though, and Hawaii fans really gave from the heart. Everyone had beads and Hawaii T-shirts over sweaters. It was a week-long rally.
The big day came and the anticipation mounted to a high pitch. We had buses drop us off four blocks from the Superdome at 4 p.m . We then waited on the large, open and cold public pregame area until 5:30 to get into the dome. More music and free entertainment from the sponsor outside with all kinds of concessions.
Wow, was that a really big stadium inside, and it was our first big-time bowl since 1992. But this was different. We had already won the hearts of America and the South - except the Georgia fans. The game was a win for us for some $2.5 million net to UH. The team was not ready to play well. Georgia put the pressure on defense and we did not adjust with a tight end, or some other strategy to stop the rush.
Well done though, Herman Frazier and June Jones! See if Georgia wants a replay here so we can repay the favor in a few years. Then we can show them some real Hawaii hospitality.
Maybe we should have a bigger venue to hold 70,000 built near the H-1/H-2 intersection. Use the ideas of former Mayor Frank Fasi to build it by trading the Aloha Stadium site for it.
We had national media exposure unlike any WAC team before us and that was great. The officiating was so poor, though, it felt like they were betting on the Bulldogs. The BCS is a fickle group but who are they really? Computers?
Fox did not show replays that the refs missed so from our view in a private box it was like the big boys were trying to put Hawaii in its place, not in their bowls.
Strange feeling but it has to be said: Why no complete replays, Fox? Was the fix in? If we win, will they rate WAC again? Not to worry though, BCS, Hawaii could not win.
Some Georgia fans who were sharing our box showed such poor class during the fourth quarter as to be calling members of our team names and Jones a loser. They were different races and graduates of the University of Georgia, well-to-do, and one of them a congressman. I had had enough, calling them what they were. Bigots, and I soon left the suite on the 45-yard line to go down to be with friends and fans for the last few minutes of the game near the end zone. The best seats were with Hawaii fans.
We sang the praises of both of the teams and the city. We will be back in more than one way. Tell everyone to visit New Orleans real soon, y'all heah?
Mahalo, Warriors, we are now big fans who showed we will travel well to the big time and are filed with pride because of you.
Mau ke aloha, no Hawaii (from "Hawaii Aloha": love always from Hawaii).
Warner Kimo Sutton, a former Honolulu Quarterback Club president, lives in Honolulu.