Big Easy is upbeat

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NEW ORLEANS --- It's easy to find music and food in The Big Easy.

During a recent brief visit with friends, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the airport is named for native son and musician Louis Armstrong.

It's fitting that the airport sports Armstrong's name, because he'll always be considered the resident Ambassador of Jazz and Goodwill for the city.

On our trip, several merchants along the city's famed Bourbon Street were eager to thank those who patronized their French Quarter businesses.

A restaurant worker who identified herself as Pocahontas said the French Quarter area was not as severely struck by floodwaters from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 as were other parts of the city, including the Lower Ninth Ward.

She suggested we should venture to the Lower Ninth Ward, which was obviously still in need of much more repair.

Bourbon Street venues such as Cafe Beignet, Cafe du Monde and the Famous Door nightclub, didn't appear to be affected by the hurricane winds.

In fact, a courtyard in front of Cafe Beignet, known as Music Legends Park, provides the perfect setting for three statues depicting the city's jazz heritage.

Bronze replicas of pianist Antoine Dominique "Fats" Domino, trumpeter Al Hirt and clarinetist Pete Fountain are reminiscent of the life-size James Brown statue that stands in the center of Augusta's Broad Street.

Another refreshing site was the street cars that travel Canal Street.

Visitors should also go to suburban Slidell to visit Copeland's of New Orleans, a restaurant dedicated to the historical culinary traditions of southern Louisiana.

Copeland's menu includes crawfish and crab cakes to crab claws.

It was at Mama Margaret's, also in Slidell, that a hearty bowl of gumbo provided the authentic, home-cooked meal that hit the proverbial spot.

After crossing Lake Pontchartrain on Interstate 10, I found my way to the Superdome/Canal Street Exit, where we saw the Dome, the highly renovated home of the New Orleans Saints and other major sporting events, including the recent Bowl College Series championship and Sugar Bowl title games.

While it sparkles from the renovations, one couldn't help but reflect on the thousands of homeless people who called the stadium home after Katrina's destruction.

Overall, it appears that New Orleans has done a remarkable job in stabilizing itself, once again making it one of America's more popular tourist stops.

Reach Timothy Cox at (706) 823-3217 or tim.cox@augustachronicle.com.

LEARN MORE

See www.foreverneworleans.com or contact the New Orleans Citizens Visitors Bureau at (504) 566-5019.


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