NEW ORLEANS -- The sights and sounds were distinctly New Orleans.
From Mardi Gras Indians to Trombone Shorty and the Rebirth Brass Band, the official city of New Orleans ceremony for the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina was a mashup of the city's culture, taking center stage at the Mahalia Jackson Theater Sunday night.
As the city reflects on a storm that changed everything, five years later -- it also celebrates the fight to overcome.
"We believed that together we could come back. And we did. We made a choice - we returned to a city that hope forgot because we believed in redemption, we believed in our rich culture, we believed in each other and we believed in New Orleans," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
Landrieu joined several well-known locals in delivering the city's post-Katrina progress report, while religious leaders of different faiths asked for spiritual help in the ongoing recovery.
"In times of rebuilding, you give us strength, and for this, we give you thanks," said Archbishop Gregory Aymond. "And as our journey continues, as we rebuild this great city, we ask you to give us the gift of hope."
It was a key message at this commemoration -- the storm was devastating, but the recovery could take New Orleans to new heights.
"I have my forget-me-not to remember the people who lost their lives in this great engineering failure of 2005, but also to remember the people that just want this culture to live," said Democratic strategist James Carville. "And our parents had it. We had it. And our children will have it."
With that culture as a backdrop, Landrieu and others looked to the future with confidence.
"As long as we have each other, as long as we cling to each other, we will always have New Orleans," Landrieu said. "There is no storm big enough to take that from us. The only way we will lose it is if we give it away. And this we will not do."