Nightly News   |  May 30, 2010

Food, protests flavor Louisiana holiday

People trying to celebrate the Memorial Day weekend found themselves less festive than normal in light of the failed attempts at stopping the oil spill in the gulf. NBC's Mara Schiavocampo reports.

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LESTER HOLT, anchor: Along the Gulf Coast , the crisis is taking a toll on a holiday weekend typically filled with celebrations. NBC 's Mara Schiavocampo is just outside New Orleans tonight.

MARA SCHIAVOCAMPO reporting: The Plaquemines Parish seafood festival is a welcome distraction and a painful reminder, a light-hearted break from the six-week crisis...

Unidentified Man #1: Good music, good food.

SCHIAVOCAMPO: ...yet a reminder of what's at stake.

Unidentified Man #2: Our seafood could be in severe jeopardy right now.

Ms. NICOLE BRO: Thank you. Appreciate y'all. Fishermen appreciate you.

SCHIAVOCAMPO: New Orleans native Nicole Bro was so moved by the oil spill disaster, she abandoned her vacation days and spent her own money to make T-shirts and bumper stickers... So how much is this shirt?

Ms. BRO: This shirt is going to be $20.

SCHIAVOCAMPO: ...and is donating all the profits to a growing group of jobless fishermen.

Ms. BRO: We're proud of who we are and we're resilient spirit and that's why we're here today.

Unidentified Man #3: We're trying to clean up this mess.

SCHIAVOCAMPO: Resilient and angry. Nearby in the French Quarter , an afternoon rainstorm couldn't keep hundreds from demanding action.

Unidentified Woman: I'm filled with anxiety every night and I hope that the BP executives feel the same way. Unfortunately, I doubt that they do.

SCHIAVOCAMPO: But for some, that anger is overwhelmed by sadness.

Mr. TILDEN KERPEL: You go to bed with it and you wake up with it.

SCHIAVOCAMPO: Tilden Kerpel 's family has been shrimping these waters for five generations. Where fishermen and boats used to come and go, now there are still waters and vacant decks.

Mr. KERPEL: Without any seafood, we're dead. Might as well just go put a rope or give us lethal injection and just kill us. It's -- it makes you want to cry. It makes a grown man want to cry.

SCHIAVOCAMPO: A community joined together in sadness and anger, keeping their focus on the waters they love, waiting and hoping for the tides to turn. Mara Schiavocampo, NBC News, Venice, Louisiana.