New Orleans always breaks our hearts.
As Mardi Gras rolled toward its grand finale, a drunk driver plowed into bicyclists heading toward what they thought would be happy evenings after the end of the Endymion parade Saturday night.
Two people were killed and seven injured as the driver struck groups of bike riders on Esplanade Avenue, one of the city's signature streets, according to the Times-Picayune's NOLA web site.
The tragedy showed the joy and despair of New Orleans. Both of those killed were Penn grads who'd come to New Orleans in the rebuilding after Katrina and come to love the city.
Sharee Walls, 27, had embarked upon a successful philanthropic career in New Orleans, showing the civic consciousness not often associated with the city. Away from her nonprofit work, she served on the board of the Red Beans Crewe, displaying the love for the city's customs that often glows in transplants.
David Hymes, 31, was a Seattle lawyer, a Tulane law school alum who had recently joined the great professional migration from New Orleans. While seeking career fulfillment elsewhere, he was still captivated by New Orleans' sense of fun.
The man charged with vehicular homicide in their deaths told police he has a drinking problem, according to the Times Picayune. That's the flip side of New Orleans' joie de vivre. The city has a drinking problem, a violence problem, a poverty problem.
Those of us who left Louisiana still celebrate Mardi Gras. We play our Professor Longhair classics, buy gumbo at one of the restaurants catering to the Louisiana diaspora, bring home a king cake.
As "My Darling New Orleans" plays, our joy is tinged with sadness.