I was fortunate to have an opportunity to bring in the new year from New Orleans. To qualify the following random thoughts, I’m not a partier, not much of a dancer, not a drinker, and I was here with my wife as part of a much-larger national park roadtrip.

As a nondrinker, many of the festivities of a New Year’s Eve celebration are lost on me. I only partially understand the dominant drinking culture, and usually choose not to participate, so overpaying to get so wasted that I can’t remember the night I was celebrating just doesn’t do it for me. The most annoying and disgusting part of the evening were the byproducts of this drinking. First, New Orleans needs far more bathrooms; it was hard to find a doorwall or planter that wasn’t leaking pee onto the sidewalk or street. I won’t even comment on how this comes to be, and how girlfriends are often charged with covering for this kind of behavior. We’ll skip the vomit and spilled drinks – and even the horseshit from the mounted police forces – and focus just on the litter problem. After just an hour or so of the party, there’s a heap of trash pushed to each edge of the street. It’s a huge pile, and it’s covering the streets. Everything is filthy, trashy, and a clear hazard. You occasionally wonder if you’re wandering through a third-world country.

Nonetheless, the atmosphere of Bourbon Street was definitely festive, and it was fun watching both girls and guys scream for beads from the balconies that made it memorable. In general, it was pretty crowded but not as crowded as I expected. Most of the girls had definitely dressed up for the night: some wore short tight skirts, some ballgowns and dresses, but every one of them featured as much cleavage as possible. Some couldn’t flash for beads given their outfit, but others stepped for them to substitute. One young woman wore no top, for instance, allowing an unzipped leather jacket to casually and only occasionally cover her nipples and chest. Given the Sugar Bowl, many beads were being tossed to guys chanting a fight song. For as much effort goes to getting the beads, you’d think that they contain mini-diamonds or something.

There was some live music, but the main stage shut down before 12:30a, and it seemed like only a few venues had any additional live music. The best part of the evening was the fireworks display, which was centered over a barge floating in the Mississippi River. It lasted longer than I assumed it would, so I was pleasantly surprised.

All in all, it was definitely one of those “you have to do this at least once in your life” moments. I’m glad that I did, and I definitely had fun.