The groups were ready earlier than I expected. They followed me into the city, where we found places to park the oversized vans on the street near Faubourg Marigny and the Quarter. I walked them down Frenchmen Street to Deactur and then to Jackson Square. There, I gave them their orientation: where they were; where not go; what there is to see on a Saturday morning.

And it was a spectacular morning. The locals and tourists alike glad to see a nice spring day, although it is still a bit cool by New Orleans standards. As they explored the French Market, the street performance on Royal Street, etc. I grabbed lunch at Mena’s Palace. Hopelessly predictable: red beans and rice and fried chicken. I sat at the bar and was shocked when I did not get at least one “baby” from the waitress; then I realized she was from Ireland. Had a nice chat with my meal.

Mid afternoon, I met up with students at the intersection of Louisiana and St. Charles uptown for the Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Parade. Even though it is more family-oriented than many things in New Orleans, I don’t think the students were quite prepared for the moderated excess. There was one hapless breast flasher, hundreds or drunken Irishmen seeking kisses, and tons of beads, throws, cabbages – yes, cabbages. And about the time the parade was over, we learned that the last van had arrived safely in Marrero.

After some burgers, the newly-reunited class went into the City for Saturday night. As they explored the Quarter, I took in a couple of sets of clarinetist Ben Schenck and the Panorama Jazz Band at the Spotted Cat. A wonderful blend of klezmer, New Orleans jazz, and Caribbean rhythm. The place was backed, so I skipped out on the new incarnation of the New Orleans Jazz Vipers and took a walk around the Quarter. Lasted maybe two blocks on Bourbon Street and then returned to my car via Decatur. On the way, I ran into jazz pianist Steve Pistorious, who had just been at UNH with Michael White two weeks ago.  From the sound of it, they are very eager to return to New Hampshire.

I took advantage of the empty quarters in Marerro to shower, get settled into bed, and wait for the groups to return. And I waited, and waited…and waited. Happily, everyone got in safely and I able to close my other eye and get a few hours of sleep.