Throngs of New Orleanians took to public parks, levees, neutral grounds and outdoor bars and cafes Sunday as the city collectively celebrated an end to a week of freezing temperatures, broken pipes and boil-water advisories.
Kids and adults alike could be seen along Bayou St. John and in New Orleans City Park, strolling along the edge of Lake Pontchartrain and at public exhibits like the Music Box Village in Bywater, all taking advantage of the weather.
One of the most crowded of the city's outdoor spaces, however, was Audubon Park in Uptown, where families with young children, cyclists, runners and even Mardi Gras marching groups had gathered to play, exercise and dance as the temperature climbed as high as 70 degrees in the early afternoon.
Among those thawing out from temperatures that had plunged as low as 20 degrees on Wednesday — the coldest in many years in the New Orleans metro area — were 34-year-old David Evans and his 5-year-old daughter, Charlotte.
"She's been caged up inside during the cold weather, so this is just wonderful," Evans said, laughing, as his daughter swung from equipment in a playground near Walnut Street.
Charlotte, who goes to the International School of Louisiana, was one of thousands of children throughout the city who had been forced to stay home for most of the week during a brutal cold snap that paralyzed the city and its residents as threats from ice and snow shut down major roadways and closed schools.
"It really upset me," Charlotte said of the cold weather that forced her inside "all day" for days.
On Sunday, however, those recollections were just memories as she joined hundreds of other children who traded coats and gloves for T-shirts and dresses as they jumped, swung and ran to burn off pent-up energy.
Chunmin Dong, 47, also was out getting some exercise with her husband, Tong Yang, 46, and their son Eric Yang, 13.
The three had been playing a prolonged game of frisbee, an activity Dong said was helping her son to calm down after restrictions from the cold weather had made him "kind of jumpy."
The kids weren't the only ones to relish the warm air. Avid exercisers took the opportunity to again push themselves in the favorable weather, including 65-year-old Patrick Bowen, who paused just long enough to say he had 10 more miles to go on his run as he took off along the St. Charles Avenue neutral ground.
And, as tourists strolled and cyclists rode by, some stopped to clap and take photos as members of marching troupes took to Audubon Park to practice.
Members of the Camel Toe Lady Steppers, a marching group that will parade with the Krewe of Muses, were wearing signature hot pink and silver hats, capes, tutus and sparkling shorts as they high-kicked, danced and pivoted their way down the park's walking path.
Richard Hoefener, a 70-year-old New Yorker, said he had jumped out of his car to take a video when he saw the costumed marching krewe. He had been on a tour of outdoor places in New Orleans, including the French Market, various parks and the lakefront, he said.
For him, New Orleans was a welcome respite from what was waiting back in New York City, where temperatures were expected to drop to the low 20s later in the week — a normal phenomenon during January for many other cities.
"People from New York often go down to South Carolina or Florida in winter, but what does Florida have to offer?" Hoefener said, commenting on New Orleans' typically warm weather and flashy culture. "No fun things like this."
And even though it was expected to rain Monday morning and then turn cool again, with lows in the 40s for a few nights, the expectation that freezes were a thing of the past, at least for a while, meant New Orleanians were inclined to agree.