Mother’s Day weekend brings heavy travel (and hugs) to New Orleans airport

During much of the COVID-19 pandemic, the only time Mary Hickock spent with her family was over a screen. Through FaceTime, she waved to her daughter and read “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” with her 7-year-old grandson. But there was one thing she couldn’t do: hug.

Hickock, in town from Wilmington, Delaware, hugged her daughter and grandchildren Friday outside Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. It marked a first since the pandemic began. Tears followed, then a trip to watch her grandkids’ horseback riding lesson.

Other mothers and children awaited their own reunions. Cindy Garfield waited outside the arrivals door for her daughter, whom she hadn’t seen in 10 months. Since then, her daughter graduated from Tulane University, started a job and got a boyfriend.

“I’m just thrilled to see them and hug them,” said Garfield, who lives in Portland, Maine, and is newly vaccinated against COVID-19. “We’re thankful for the science that is bringing us together this weekend.”

For some families, Mother’s Day is less of a reunion and more of a getaway, especially after a tough year. Coco Williams took her mother and children to New Orleans following months under the same St. Louis roof. Her mother, 80, fought the virus and beat it. Spending their holiday traveling is their way to honor a lesson.

“Enjoy the time you have with one another,” Williams said. “You never know whether there’s going to be a pandemic or death or whatever. You don’t want something traumatic to be what brings people together. That’s what I learned.”

The Mother’s Day weekend travel bump comes after Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport enjoyed its busiest day since the pandemic began. Sunday, May 2 brought more than 15,000 passengers to the airport. Airport officials cite increased comfort with air travel, as more people get COVID-19 vaccines.

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