Michael's Birthday, New Orleans Style

Trip Start Apr 09, 2010
Trip End Apr 18, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Louisiana
Sunday, April 11, 2010

Happy Birthday Michael! The birthday boy wants to visit the church where he was baptized, so we go there this morning -- All Saints Catholic Church. It’s a beautiful day. Before we even get inside, Maw-Maw sees some old friends. I can tell it’s going to be a reunion this morning. The church is a quaint little place, not unlike many Catholic churches I’ve visited, but very different from the regal basilicas we saw while in France. 
From my past experiences visiting Catholic churches, I knew I would have to get ready for some singing, kneeling and standing, but what I wasn’t prepared for was how cold it was in the small church. Obviously, they don’t want anyone falling asleep this morning, but I’m so cold I can barely pay attention. I wish I could share the shawl with the woman sitting in front of me. After a few hymns and some reading from the epistles, they take the collection (the first of two), then the priest gives a pretty good message. Did I mention it’s freezing in here? 

Finally, we’re heading down the home stretch. Oh no, now it’s time for the visitors to stand and greet the congregation. Why do they make people do this? After the other eight people do their spiel, I do mine and give honor to Mrs. Henderson for inviting me to the church. Then I notice Miss Minerva and her husband (Germaine’s in-laws) in the back. How nice to see them today. Then they invite anyone celebrating anything today to stand up. I tell Michael that if he doesn’t stand and announce his birthday, I’ll do it and it won’t be nice. So he does it and mentions that he was baptized in this church “a very long time ago.” What a way to make yourself sound old! Okay, now we’re done and I can go outside to warm up. 

We say our hellos to several people and then we’re off for the Algiers tour we always go on when we come to town. Michael loves his hometown and I love that about him. It’s obvious that the neighborhood is in transition. Quaint Creole cottages once abandoned -- before or since Katrina -- are being renovated by relative newcomers who are discovering the value and the peace of this historic enclave. A fresh coat of paint in the traditional Creole style, a little landscaping, new windows; the renovation is happening all over and it’s bringing Algiers alive. But there’s a clear line of distinction between the “new Algiers” at Algiers Point -- where the new faces of the neighborhood are staking their claim -- and the ‘hood where Michael grew up. More about that later. 

Back at the house, we meet up with Michael’s nephew David, change clothes, then go back over the the festival. This time, we park in Algiers and take the ferry over the river (click the pictures to watch the videos above, to the right and below). Lots of people have the same idea, but the line moves pretty quickly and in no time we’re back in the French Quarter. More music and eating and walking and eating. Again, the crowd is enormous, the music is lively and the sun is beaming hot. This is a great day. David is on a mission to eat his way through the Fest, so we travel down the river walk, into Jackson Square then over to the French Market. David takes us a little further into the Quarter; we didn’t even know the festival was as far in as the U.S. Mint on Esplanade. David is eating his way through the festival just as I did yesterday -- crawfish pasta here, stuffed bell pepper there. It’s all good

Time to head back across the river. By the time we reach the ferry landing, the line is crazy long. We wait patiently for about 20 minutes with hundreds of other exhausted festival-goers, then board the ferry back to Algiers. A short walk to the car takes us through the neighborhood along narrow sidewalks that have been disturbed by massive tree roots breaking through the concrete. It’s quiet as the neighborhood settles down and prepares for the week ahead. We certainly have some interesting activities planned, and I’m looking forward to every moment.
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