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50th Southern Decadence ends, city cleaning up after successful weekend

After a two year hiatus due to COVID-19 and Hurricane Ida, Southern Decadence closed its 50th celebration, and started its mass cleanup.

NEW ORLEANS — Monday marked the official end to Southern Decadence in New Orleans and by all accounts, it was a successful return after a two-year hiatus.    

At the corner of Bourbon and St. Ann, outside The Bourbon Pub, Fredrick Butler spent Monday morning cleaning up.

“Work,” laughed Butler. “Doing a cleanup after all this madness is done. Actually, I’m surprised it’s not as much as I thought it was going to be but it’s still a whole lot.”

With VIP and admission lines gone, Butler was part of a chorus of brooms, pressure washers and street sweepers, closing out the fiftieth year of Southern Decadence.  

“A lot of smiles, a lot of hugs and kisses,” said Butler.

What started as a small party among friends, turned into one of the largest LGBTQ events, attracting people from all over the country.

“Everybody is always really nice and wants to talk to you,” said Scott Blevins from Denver, who attended his first decadence a few years ago.

“I had never been to New Orleans before and it’s a pretty big event for the LGBTQ community,” said Blevins. “I just felt like I should go and I fell in love with it and I continued to come back.”

Relaxing on Bourbon Street before his flight home, Blevins got to watch the street transform.

“It’s good to see Bourbon Street getting cleaned up. I don’t normally get to see this side of it so it’s kind of interesting,” said Blevins.

Back outside The Bourbon Pub, Butler knows all that trash means a successful weekend, especially since the pandemic and Hurricane Ida sidelined Southern Decadence the last two years.

“They had a good turnout,” said Butler. “It has a good financial impact and a good community impact.  With all the madness that’s going on in the world right now we need something to uplift the community.”

That sense of community is what made friends Tony Nguyen and Steven Pham make the last-minute decision to book a flight from Dallas.

“We booked a one-way ticket on Friday at 6pm and we got here at 10pm,” said Nguyen.

Taking in the sights Monday was the perfect time to unwind.

“It’s a little bit quiet today so it’s really nice,” said Pham.

It’s also a nice rebound for the city, especially the hospitality industry, hit hard by the pandemic. According to New Orleans and company all Downtown and French Quarter hotel rooms were at least 95 percent full. That also takes into account Sunday’s LSU game at the Superdome.

“Being able to see some recovery and getting to enjoy life in these kinds of ways again is really important,” said Blevins.

Back outside The Bourbon Pub, Butler is ready for some rest and already looking forward to next year. 

“I’m kind of glad it’s over with but then again, I’m not,” said Blevins.

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