A hurricane is no reason to end the party in New Orleans

New Orleans (AFP) –


A hurricane could not deter revelers Thursday on popular Bourbon Street in New Orleans' historic French Quarter.

Just minutes before an evening curfew in the city known as "The Big Easy," happy people continued to saunter through the streets, dance in bars and dine in restaurants.

Some establishments held 'hurricane parties.'

Mayor Mitch Landrieu could barely contain his irritation, admonishing those who did not heed the curfew or evacuation orders for several low-lying areas.

"They're putting themselves... in harm's way," Landrieu said. "I know we're in New Orleans, and everybody thinks that everything is kinda easy, but there are a lot of things that can happen."

Officials warned that once the winds picked up, Hurricane Nate could blow debris, knock out electricity, and bring rain to the flood-prone area.

But many businesses in the French Quarter, where some buildings have stood since the late 18th Century, planned to weather the storm -- window shutters at the ready when the winds pick up.

"The plan is to stay open through the whole thing," said David Ihrig, 47, bartender at Johnny White's Corner Pub. "The French Quarter is notorious for holding up."

Ihrig planned to remain through the night, but said his customers fell into two camps: those who were scared by the official warnings and retreated to hotel rooms, and those who refused to stop the party.

Samantha Jordan, 21, firmly fell in the latter camp.

She and her college friends from the nearby southern state of Georgia were on a weekend trip.

"Our parents wanted us to leave, but we decided to stay," Jordan said. "We scheduled the event way before, so we couldn't change it."

If any event is hard to change, it's a wedding.

Musician Marques Green, 23, and his group "One Shot Brass Band" were scheduled to perform in two of them Thursday night -- both went on as planned.

"This city is full of resilience in every aspect," Green said. "No storm is going to stop the tradition and the culture of the city of New Orleans."

But Aviva Bollinger, 44, who was visiting from Chicago, said she planned to heed officials' warnings and leave the French Quarter in the evening.

"You can have fun and when the curfew lifts you can come back and have more fun," she said.

"Everyone's safety is more important."