NEW ORLEANS (AP) — If you are planning to do any work in New Orleans on Thursday, forget it.
City Hall is closed, schools are closing early, the Superdome is spruced up, a parade, concert and hours of tailgating are planned as the Who Dat Nation gets ready to celebrate — after a 43-year wait — beginning the NFL season as the defending Super Bowl champion.
The Saints, long the laughing stock of the league, have finally justified the faith of their longtime fans and sparked an almost cult-like devotion in their hometown.
A number of city schools are closing early, citing the traffic problems the Saints-Minnesota Vikings game will cause. Catholic schools are planning afternoon pep rallies. No one would predict what they expected attendance to be on Friday, the day after the game.
The Saints' website says larger crowds than usual expected in downtown New Orleans.
The Super Bowl XLIV World Champion New Orleans Saints have issued an advisory to patrons attending the New Orleans Saints versus Minnesota Vikings game.
Due to the expected above-average vehicle and pedestrian traffic in and around the downtown area, the Saints want fans who are attending the game to know that it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to attend the NFL’s Parade and concert and still make it to their seats for Pre-Game festivities and kickoff, including the unveiling of the Super Bowl Championship Banner.
Traffic is expected to be very heavy and parking spots will be limited, as is typically the case surrounding Saints’ home games.
In addition, fans are advised that Superdome Lot #3 will be closed to public parking this game.
Due to the expected increase in the number of people who will be in the New Orleans area for the Parade and Concert, but not attending the game, moving throughout the French Quarter and Central Business District is expected to take longer than it normally would.
(All times listed are Central Daylight Time, just in case you're a Saints' fan reading this in Hawaii, London or some other far away location.)
The NFL’s Kickoff Parade will begin at 5 p.m. to be followed with a concert featuring The Dave Matthews Band and Taylor Swift at Jackson Square.
Details for those seeking more information on the parade and the concert are at http://www.nfl.com/kickoff.
Pre-game festivities in the Dome will begin at 6:30 p.m. with NBC Pre-Game Show and will feature the unveiling of the Saints Super Bowl XLIV banner.
Champions Square will open at 3 p.m. on Thursday and will feature drink specials, cuisine from various local restaurants and Saints programming, including:
* 3-4:30 p.m.: Special airing of NFL Film’s presentation “America’s Game: 2009 New Orleans Saints” and highlights of the 2009 season and Super Bowl.
* 4:30 p.m.: Tom Benson, with Vince Lombardi Trophy, greets fans and welcomes them to Champions Square
* 4:40-6:30 p.m.: Bucktown All-Stars
* 5 p.m.: Kickoff Parade
* 6:30 p.m.: Pre-Game Concert featuring The Dave Matthews Band and Taylor Swift at Jackson Square.
* 6:30-7:30 p.m.: Pre-Game Show live from the Superdome
* Postgame: Champions Square Stadium Show live from Superdome
I hope we don't hurt Favre too bad tonight!