POSTED: Friday, February 1, 2013 - 8:00am
UPDATED: Friday, February 1, 2013 - 9:58am
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — The party has started in New Orleans. Football fans are pouring into the city to have a little fun before the big game.
But this week is also serious business for the Big Easy. A chance to show the world they've made it all the way back.
This weekend will mark the tenth time the big game has been played in the "Big Easy," but it comes after an 11-year absence from the Super Bowl rotation and lingering questions about whether New Orleans could still handle hosting such a massive party.
Music is the soul of this city; the volume, cranked-up.
As the Super Bowl comes to town, Beyonce didn't wait until halftime to sing, belting out the National Anthem after more than a week of controversy, over her use of a recorded track at the inauguration.
No question about her talent and no question that New Orleans ravaged by Katrina, and stained by an oil spill since its last Super Bowl is back and ready for a party. "It's an opportunity for the people of America to see that New Orleans is not under water, and not only are we just back but we're kind of roaring forward," said the Mayor of New Orleans, Louisiana, Mitch Landrieu,
Fans are roaring in. "This is my first day down here, and as you can tell, we're getting ready to get the party started," 49ers fan, Lenny Cathcart said as he held up his drink.
A party that will not stop for weeks.
The Super Bowl - in the middle of mardi gras is in the only town that could pull it all off. "Yea, I anticipate it's going to be just craziness all night, every night," said Jon Williams Jimmy J's Caf?.
Reaching a peak on Sunday night.
Fittingly, in a place that once represented so much pain, but now shines as a symbol of the city's resurgence. "You know who would have thought seven and a half years ago when we left here after Katrina that we would come back to this -- and host the Super Bowl?" said Doug Thornton / Superdome Manager
Two days before the big game. "We're back stronger than we've ever been," said Jon Williams, Jimmy J's Caf?.
And already, there is a clear winner.
There are more restaurants here than before Katrina, more hotel rooms - which are full,
And officials here are already planning their bid to host the 2018 Super Bowl which will come during the 300th anniversary of the city.