Here's a bit from an National Writing Project piece about the progenitor of the writing marathon: The New Orleans Writing Marathon.
The sexy yak of a saxophone drifts into the Café du Monde, mixing with the beat of ceiling fans and the smell of hot, powdered beignets. Across the street, two children tap-dance for quarters while a third spins a bicycle wheel on his head, the spokes a gray halo in the humid air. A horse-drawn carriage clops by St. Louis Cathedral while a mime dressed as Uncle Sam freezes in midstride outside the café window. Inside, teachers gingerly sip café au lait, knock excess sugar off their beignets, and stare at the world outside. Despite their good spirits, I see anxiety in their expressions. "What are we doing here?" they seem to ask.