NEW ORLEANS - Saints fans hugged, kissed, and spilled onto the streets last night as a citywide party erupted after their once woebegone NFL franchise defeated the Indianapolis Colts.
French Quarter crowds, beefed up by tourists in town for Carnival season and by those wanting to experience the euphoria of a Saints victory, poured onto Bourbon Street to celebrate in a scene that looked more like Fat Tuesday than a Sunday night.
As a brass band played "When the Saints Go Marching In" inside Irvin Mayfield's Jazz Playhouse, revelers jumped up and down, stood on chairs and tables and waved black and gold umbrellas.
"This is so awesome," said Darlene Milliet, as she hugged her sister, Cindy Lasiter, both of them crying. "I can't believe it!"
Trina Pearley-Brown was raised by her mother to be a Saints fan, and she was carrying on the legacy even though her mother died before Hurricane Katrina hit.
"You can't describe it. It's so awesome. We've been waiting for this for years," said Pearley-Brown, 47, from Gramercy, La. "It's means so much to the city. They're back. They're alive."
The celebrations began hours before the game, as dogs dressed in Saints jerseys and gaudy floats provided a rolling pregame tailgate party long before the Super Bowl kicked off.
In the French Quarter, the celebrations began with the procession of the "Krewe of Barkus," a miniparade for dogs. One yellow labrador retriever walked the parade route dressed like Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey, complete with stringy blond wig and fake tattoos running down his legs below the No. 88 jersey.
"He has a laid-back surfer personality, like Shockey," said Stas Zhuk, gesturing to 2-year-old Diego, who was being walked by his wife. "He's friendly to everyone."