By Ramon Antonio Vargas, The Times-Picayune
February 13, 2010, 1:44PM Endymion ParadeAdriana Gomez of Pensacola screams as she catches a huge bag of beads with friend Rachel Chapman (R) as they watch the 2,430 riders of the Krewe of Endymion turn off Orleans Avenue onto Carrollton Ave. during the 2009 parade.For a moment, Terry and Paul Theriot feared that New Orleans’ residents had perhaps been paraded out. Late this morning, with only five hours to go before the Carnival superkrewe of Endymion rolled its parade, the Theriots, who were manning a booth outside Mandina’s Restaurant on Canal Street, had served lunch plates to almost no one. The Slidell couple, who volunteer to dispense plates of fried seafood to hungry parade-goers in exchange for free beer, wondered if near-freezing temperatures during four New Orleans parades last night had exhausted revelers. Or maybe Tuesday’s Saints’ Super Bowl victory parade in the Central Business District, during which a crowd of 800,000 people braved frigid temperatures and epic traffic gridlock, had defeated the city’s resilient partiers. But then a woman approached the Theriots’ booth outside the restaurant and ordered eight dinner plates. The plates – fried shrimp, fried oysters, fried catfish, fried chicken and red beans and rice – were not meant to feed her companions on the parade route, however. They were all for her, to last from Saturday until Mardi Gras. “That’s all she was going to eat,” said Paul Theriot, 58. “People are going to come out, eat and party. It’s been a great year.” Indeed, it has. As the parade’s start neared and Canal Street came to life this afternoon, all signs indicated that the euphoria reigning over the city since the Saints won Super Bowl XLIV almost a week ago is still going strong. Dozens of people eating grilled food and enjoying drinks near the intersection of Carrollton Avenue and Canal Street wore Saints championship sweatshirts, T-shirts and hats. A massive black banner hanging from a building housing a spa and law firm screamed, “Who Dat!,” in capitalized gold letters, the words split by a fleur-de-lis. Men and women tossed footballs with their children in the street, though it was still open to traffic. Others danced in driveways as speakers blared Superdome favorites like Aaron Neville’s version of “When the Saints Go Marching In” and the Ying Yang Twins’ “Halftime (Stand Up and Get Crunk).” Many of those people staked claims to their spots alongside the neutral ground’s streetcar tracks days ago, some braving even rain and bone-chilling temperatures inside tents. In a few hours, they will have the chance to toast Saints owner Tom Benson, Endymion’s grand marshal, whose sometimes fraught relationship with fans has now hit an all-time high. Lakeview resident Mark Silva, 37, lounging in a chair outside a flooring store named “Floor de Lis,” said he is excited not just about the Saints, but also the city's potential. The city just elected a new mayor, he noted, adding that crawfish season is approaching and in just three years New Orleans will host its 10th Super Bowl. “There’s so much going on right now,” said Silva, accompanied by his wife and 20-month-old son. “I couldn’t imagine being any other place.” At least one man expressed his civic pride without relying on Saints gear to do so. Travis Spencer, 25, who lives in Carrollton, wore a New Orleans Hornets Mardi Gras jersey, bearing Chris Paul’s name and number. “Everyone else is in black and gold,” Spencer explained of his choice to don a purple, green and gold jersey. “I’m just staying fresh, staying festive.” Shortly after 5 p.m., it appeared that the float immediately behind the one carrying Benson had broken down and been pulled out of the procession, but the merrymarking went on unabated.