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TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2006
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EDITORIAL

Party on, New Orleans; you deserve a break

Nature won Round 1 in New Orleans, but its proud people on Sunday rejected submission.

Numbers were down at the first day of New Orleans' famous party — some said by half — but the revelry remained. That's an amazing fact when you consider post-Katrina New Orleans has 190,000 residents. Before the storm, it had a half million.

Some reports suggested the partiers were different this year. Less profanity, more compassion and more calm. As a bartender told a reporter, "It is slower but better in quality. ... Everyone is definitely feeling the love. It's a real good vibe."

Ebony Jenkins, who lost home, car and possessions in the flood, was in a festive mood nonetheless as she talked to CNN.

"My take on it is: Let it roll," she said as she waited for the parade. "Mardi Gras is just Mardi Gras, period," she continued. "You can't take Mardi Gras from the N.O."

New Orleans is not back to normal. It may never be. Entire sections of the city are vacant, moldy ghost towns that speak to nature's tyrannical power. Many who left will never return. Walking its residential streets, one gets the feeling that New Orleans is still doing figuratively what it did literally after the flood: Trying to keep its head above water.

Historically, the beginning of Carnival — which ends with Fat Tuesday — served as a last bit of fun before the fasting of Lent. Fat Tuesday falls on the day before Ash Wednesday, the last day before Lent. The Roman Catholic Church observes a 40-day season of prayer and fasting, which ends Easter Sunday.

The determined revelers in New Orleans got an early start on Lenten austerity. They have done without ever since the waters poured in.

The city deserves to kick up its heels a bit. With Ash Wednesday residents will have no choice but to resume the sacrifices that have plagued them since Katrina.

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