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Saints tailgating returns as businesses look to cash in on first home game

Saints fans show their vaccination status before entering the watch party Sunday (Oct. 3) at...
Saints fans show their vaccination status before entering the watch party Sunday (Oct. 3) at the remodeled Walk-On's on Poydras Street.(WVUE)
Published: Oct. 3, 2021 at 11:25 AM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Ahead of the first capacity crowd for a Saints home game since January 2020, fans took part in pre-game tailgating rituals allowed by the city for the first time in 19 months.

Sunday also marked the first time the Saints have played at home since Hurricane Ida.

“Just being back there, it’s been forever,” said Saints fan Catherine Gauthier.

“Last year was the first year in 30 years that I have not been to one game and it hurt. It actually physically hurt.”

It’s no secret that the pandemic has not been kind to New Orleans’ hospitality industry. Some businesses used the down time to better prepare for the Saints’ home opener. For instance, Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux on Poydras Street took time to remodel ahead of the long-anticipated return.

“We opened at 8 a.m., which we typically do for a noon game, so that we’re able to hang out with our city and get ready for game day,” said training coordinator Kailyn Schloegel.

“Having it be a Saints game day, it really helps bring up the whole momentum of the city and everyone is just feeling excitement.”

Ed Shedlock and his friends have been tailgating on Poydras Street for 10 years, even forming a Facebook group called the “Krewe of Just Because.”

He says getting back to the old rituals of a Saints Sunday brings back the positive vibes they’ve been missing.

“We have great food, we have beer, we have televisions. People walk by and we invite them in,” said Shedlock.

“You know things have been beaten down. The pandemic, and then Ida, and then all of our festivals are gone. So, it’s really a return to what people move to New Orleans for.”

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