If someone needed proof that God is indeed Irish, then this day would have confirmed all of that. What a remarkable combination of gorgeous weather, meaningful work, and a parade!

After three days of rain, the sun game out, the humidity went down, and the temperature nudged 80 degrees. And with the improved weather, out came Operation Helping Hands’ backlog of painting jobs. I suspect that as long as this weather holds, all four groups will be involved in some combination of minor repairs and prep work, priming, and painting. And we went in four different directions to do just that. Two groups remained in Gentilly and the other two to sites in the Upper Ninth Ward, not far from Habitat for Humanity’s Musician’s Village.

new-orleans-2009-077I adopted the one group without a UNH-ABC leader and will probably remain with them from the rest of the week. Our local coordinator is Caitlyn, a native of Rhode Island and recent graduate of St. Anselm College in Manchester, NH. Jake, Mandi, Erin, Taylor, Emily C., and Laurie make up the rest of the group. We are working on a house on Mazant Street, which rests on the block between Claiborne and Robertson Avenues. It was a lucky draw, most of the prep work, with the exception of some priming has already been done. If the weather holds, I suspect we’ll spend the rest of the week at this house. It is a modified, two unit shotgun house. The owner is busy at work rehabbing the interior, but like many residents he could not get support to help him with painting — that is considered cosmetic. And that is one of the deficits that Operation Helping Hands has been trying to close. In addition, we found that both  neighbors and their dogs are quick to wave (or wag), stop by, and/or exchange pleasantries. In fact, a contractor working across the street from Stu’s group was so impressed with the work they were doing that he had a complete fried chicken dinner delivered to the house.

new-orleans-2009-086And lunch, I walked them over to Musicians’ Village, where Birttany, Stu, Meaghan, Brittany and I worked two years ago. Happily, the entire neighborhood is nearly complete. And remarkably, we met a group of UNH Intervarsity Students framing one of the new houses there.

We finished up around four, our work already very evident, particularly in the front of the house. We went back to St Raymond’s, a closed Catholic school that serves as Operation Helping Hands’  staging center, and had an early dinner. We returned to the otherside of the Mississippi River to Madonna Manor and got rid of the dirt, sweat, and paint.

I accompanied Brad and Brittany’s group to Faubourg Marigny to catch the Downtown Irish Club St. Patrick’s Day before it crossed into the French Quarter. It was a much more intimate setting in which to observe highly inebriated adults throw beads and lavish kisses on often dubious parade goers. And it drew every kook and character within a ten block radius. In other words it was a riot. It was as much fun to observe the parade goers as it was to follow the parade itself. In my mind, it was a far better experience than watching it one Bourbon Street.new-orleans-2009-106

Students spread throughout the Quarter to follow the parade, among other things. Some of us retired to Cafe du Monde for a nightcap of coffee and beignets before returning for a few hours of sleep before another day of painting.