Here we are, after one of the biggest games in the world was played, and while the San Francisco 49ers fell to the Baltimore Ravens, it's safe to say that the host city of New Orleans is the obvious winner of Super Bowl XLVII. Yes, even with the 34- minute blackout.
Last Saturday, during the first ever-Super Saturday of Service — a $2 million legacy program benefiting the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission (NORDC) — took place in playgrounds and immediate surrounding areas. Volunteers participated in renovating five NORDC playgrounds across the city, some in neighborhoods hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina.
In a press conference that was supposed to focus on the day of service, many dignitaries highlighted the resiliency and self-investment of the city and her residents. Hundreds of volunteers (both residents and Super Bowl visitors) donated portions of their weekend to revitalize neighborhood parks and recreational centers.
In all, approximately 17,000 people volunteered in New Orleans by the conclusion of the big game.
One of the main goals of the day of service was to inspire people to make volunteering a way of life. Various organizations worked together to make the event a success. Hike for KaTreena, a non-profit organization dedicated to replacing some of the 100,000 trees New Orleans lost due to Katrina, planted its 20,000 tree Saturday.
Mary Matalin, co-chair of the New Orleans Super Bowl Host Committee, pointed out her biggest takeaway of the weekend. "It's been so easy to brag about this city. In the beginning, the focus was on our food, culture and music. Now it's about the people."
And the people of New Orleans seem to have made a lasting impression on visiting NFL fans. "New Orleans is a great city, it's beautiful. The people are extremely friendly and made us feel welcome," says Jean a Ravens fan from Chicago.
As New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu noted, "This is what it feels like to win. This is what it feels like to come together and win. Some short years ago, we were under 15 feet of water and on the bottom of every list."
Though Super Bowl visitors have returned home and the city's focus has shifted back to Mardi Gras, New Orleans will continue to come together and win. Hopefully, winning includes being the host city for the 2018 Super Bowl.