Finding the Christmas Spirit in New Orleans

The holiday spirit seems unthinkable when so much of New Orleans is still destroyed. But as ABC News went door to door this morning, people like Jocelyn Jackson were determined to be home for the holidays.

Electricity was restored to Jackson's neighborhood yesterday, just in time to hang lights and put up a Santa.

"I felt blessed that my home didn't go under with Katrina," she said, "and I just wanted to be in the season, be in the Christmas spirit. It helped me."

Peter Morgan lost his home, but his Christmas decorations survived in the attic and he decided to decorate his FEMA trailer from top to bottom.

"We said we had to put up some lights to make it seem like home," Morgan said. "It kinda got out of hand."

People here are resilient and have managed to keep their sense of humor. Every decoration on one tree was a reminder of Katrina. The sad fact is that in most New Orleans' neighborhoods, there are no decorations, no holiday spirit, because there are simply no people.

Few Back in Town

Our Lady Star of the Sea and Franklin Avenue Baptist Church would normally be full of worshippers on Christmas Eve. Both churches have been devastated -- their congregations are gone.

When David Erath bought "Santa's Quarters" in New Orleans in January, he was expecting spectacular sales over the holidays. His timing could not have been worse.

"We're trying to have a good time and enjoy it and make the most of it," Erath said. "But it's kind of difficult to do when so many people are suffering around us."

But New Orleans has once again lighted City Park. It's one of the few places where children like Ariana Nicholas can come to play. "There is really nowhere to go," Nicholas said, "but I still love Christmas."

The National Guard Band plays carols every night. New Orleans used to be a city of nearly 500,000, and only 60,000 have returned. Still, the show goes on.

Because of the looting after Katrina, New Orleans has had a 2 a.m. curfew, even in the French Quarter. Tonight, the curfew comes to an end.

"No last call," said restaurant manager Daryl Broadway. "Come on down. We'll take care of you all night long, 24/7."

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