For New Orleans, Katrina Anniversary Is Both Solemn And Festive

At a ceremony in this city commemorating the five years since hurricane Katrina, a brass band played a final round of music Sunday, and out of nowhere, Mayor Mitch Landrieu sprang from his seat to join the musicians onstage. What he then did would be almost unthinkable for most buttoned-up leaders, but here, it’s as much a part of the job as fixing potholes and cutting ribbonsHe danced. Dancing, singing, mourning, and crying mixed throughout New Orleans this weekend as the city worked overtime to balance showcasing the progress made since floodwater covered 80 percent of its streets with honoring the 1,836 people who died in its wake.In a city where funerals are often masked as street parties and jazz music is played in church, commemorating and celebrating can cross wires. To Louis DiVincenti, a cabdriver, the storm is “hyped so much.” The city, he worries, will refuse to move on and will turn Katrina into another industry. He points to the bus tours that shuttle tourists to gawk at the desolation of the Lower Ninth Ward. “The more you do that, the more it won’t die down,” he says. Yet for a city that depends so much on tourism, he understands the compulsion: “Half the people in the country think New Orleans is still underwater.”