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Chris Rose: The FQF

Published: Apr. 12, 2012 at 1:00 AM CDT|Updated: Apr. 20, 2012 at 10:38 AM CDT
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This weekend, my neighborhood welcomes the annual French Quarter Festival.

The FQF, as it has become in today's world of condensed lexicon, has evolved as a local favorite, often compared to the Jazz Festivals of old.

I'm not sure that label fits anymore; French Quarter Fest is huge now, not the intimate, easy to negotiate little street fair it started as 29 years ago.

But that's alright. I'm glad it brings so many folks – New Orleans outliers, especially families – back into the city's true heart.

I have fallen back in love with the Quarter. I lived here when I first moved to New Orleans back in 1984, and moved back last fall after more than two decades away.

Admittedly, it's a delicate dance raising children in the French Quarter.

Mine are still young; my oldest just became a teenager.

But they all love the mystery of hidden courtyards – like our own – and the French Market, Cafe du Monde, the clop-clop of the mule buggies and Armstrong Park so close to our home, so pristine and isolated, almost like we have our own private royal garden.

They loved the Easter Parades last weekend; it was the first time I've ever let them walk on Bourbon Street.

That's an aspect of life down here I'm willing to try to shelter them from – the lurid, desperate feel of the businesses there; Barely Legal, indeed.

Otherwise, I've convinced myself – and them, without much difficulty – that growing up here is a unique experience, something to cherish, now and in later years.

It's old world, on foot, intimate and alive.

It's romantic, though I don't suppose they'll factor that until they're much older.

I love the Vieux Carre in the morning, when it is empty of commerce and hustle and almost everyone you see or meet lives here or is coming to work here.

It's a community. There's a camaraderie among the residents, even if rarely spoken or acknowledged, that we live in this special place and we are the brave, the mildly insane, the contented.

It doesn't look, sound, smell or feel like anyplace else in New Orleans, in America.

This weekend, come check it out for yourself.