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Saints fans in Miami celebrate franchise's first Super Bowl title

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- New Orleans Saints fan Peggy Byrd said her team's Super Bowl victory helps wash away some tough times.

Byrd, 56, said she believed that the Saints could win the big game, and that's what fans shouted as they left the stadium after the team beat Indianapolis Colts 31-17 on Sunday night.

Byrd and husband Rocky lost all their possessions -- even their wedding photos -- five years ago in Hurricane Katrina.

"This is the best feeling since Katrina," she said. "I can't believe it. We knew what a good team we had."

In 1979, Byrd got a notarized contract with her boss at The Peoples Bank in Biloxi, Miss., that if the Saints ever made it to the Super Bowl, he would pay her way. He ended up paying for Byrd's husband, too.

"The first thing I did was look up at the sky and say, 'Thank you Lord,'" Byrd said after New Orleans won.

Many Saints fans said they saw people crying in the stands. Others cheered "Who Dat? Who Dat?" as they began a night of partying in South Florida.

"It's been a long time coming, but we kept the faith," said Madeline Henderson, from Shreveport, La. "It was very touching ... So happy for the city, the state, the team."

Ezra Azizo, 21, is originally from New Orleans, but he was forced to move to New York after Katrina. A student at Fashion Institute of Technology, he dropped a class to receive a refund and use the money ($1,600) to come to Miami to watch the Saints.

"It's one of the greatest days of my life," he said. "I was in shock and awe."

Paula and Charles Mitchell of New Orleans agreed that winning was a wonderful feeling. Paula pointed to a bracelet she was wearing that said "hope" on it.

"We deserved this," she said.

They said they were going back home to throw a Super Bowl party.

Russell Baker, 25, stood in the stands after the game, gold paint peeling from his face. He wore a T-shirt with Saints running back Reggie Bush's face on it, and his sister, Kristen, had a black crown atop her head.

"Oh my God! It doesn't even make sense," Russell Baker said. "We used to be the 'Aints. We wore brown bags on our heads and now we're Super Bowl champions!"

Baker's sister wore yellow ribbons in her hair and gold cape. She carried a sign proclaiming that she loved the Saints "even before they were famous."

"Oh my gosh, I've never been happier in my whole life," Kristen Baker said. "This is the best day of my whole entire life. I've been waiting 29 years for this."

Some fans wondered about the festivities that were going in New Orleans.

"Our boys have worked so hard, the coaches have worked so hard," said New Orleans resident Gloria Newman, who turns 83 in March. "The town has been behind them for so many years, and we feel like we deserve it. It's time for some good times for the city. And you know they're partying in New Orleans tonight. Bourbon Street must be really jumping."

But maybe one fan summed it up.

"We just walked out of heaven, baby," said Thomas Krefft, 43, from Slidell, La.

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