That Ragin' Cajun joie de vivre

by Kari Walker

Good things come in threes

Photo by Jay Faugot

We don't travel - we take over. It was a favorite phrase on a Ragin' Cajun fan's T-shirt during the 2013 New Orleans Bowl weekend. And it's true - at least when it came to the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl for the past three years.

Even Karl Benson, the commissioner of the Sun Belt Conference, said there is no other school in America that travels its average attendance to a bowl game. Starting with a proper send-off of players and coaching staff from Cajun Field to victory toasts at watering holes, New Orleans knows its neighbors to the west mean business when it comes to passing a good time.

On Thursday evening before the Dec. 21 game, the Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission hosted the "We're Back Again!" parade where the Pride of Acadiana marching band led fans down Bourbon Street in a second line, tossing beads to share the spirit of the pepper. Friday morning back in Lafayette, UL honored new alumni at the fall 2013 commencement ceremonies; following this, many new grads hit the highway to join festivities in anticipation of a three-peat - grads were sighted proudly donning their caps in the Quarter. Over at Champions Square Friday night, music lovers joined in for a concert by the Charlie Daniels Band and Travis Tritt. Nobody does a lil' two step quite like some Cajun fans - and our men do football fashion best, too. Gents were mad for plaid and other loud prints that sent a clear message to Tulane fans to step up their wardrobe game.

With Bloody Marys in hand Saturday morning, the sea of red headed over to Rouses on Baronne Street for a Louisiana tailgate party like no other. The shindig was complete with barbecue, jambalaya and plenty of ice cold beer - we expected nothing less from this Louisiana grocer. New Orleans' the Chee Weez kept the crowd rockin' with old-skool favorites and their get-on-your-feet energy. As the sun started to set, many fans made their way over to the Ragin' Cajuns block party on Poydras Street hosted by a few familiar Lafayette faces - radio DJs from Hot 107.9 and Planet Radio 105.1 joined forces with the Rabbit Hole and City Bar right up until game time. Across the street at Walk On's and the Roux House, law firm Jones Walker was a house divided with Cajun and Tulane fans representing both its Lafayette and New Orleans offices - the party-goers shouted cheers and tossed beads from their balcony overlooking the spirited crowd making the trek to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

As fans made their way to their seats, the Ragin' Cajuns team warmed up on the field, the air filled with mixed emotions of anticipation of a third shot at victory shadowed with worry over an opposing team with home field advantage. One glance at the stands and it was clear the Cajun Nation was in full force.

In the final seconds of the game, UL's fate was uncertain as Tulane's 2012 Lou Groza winner stepped onto the field for a potential game-tying, 48-yard field goal.

We all know how that turned out.

Photos by: Buddy Delahoussaye, Jay Faugot, Mark Lagrange, Robin May and Kari Walker

For even more photo coverage from the 2013 New Orleans Bowl, click here to view album

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