Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus brings “Space Farce” parade this weekend
Carnival season is well under way. My office has near-daily offerings of King Cake to tempt me, my social media is filled with friends showing off their incredible creations of shoes, purses, plungers and other homemade throws, and my family is getting ready to get our nerd on this Saturday, Feb. 9 for the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus parade.
With light sabers at the ready, we’ll hit the streets of the Marigny to watch one of the most entertaining and creative parades of Carnival. Chewbacchus, founded in 2011, is made up of over 100 subkrewes and prides itself on its “green” take on Mardi Gras with endearingly DIY throws. There aren’t floats, but instead, there are “parade contraptions” that are powered with human labor or small electric motors – imagine tricycles and shopping carts.
The subkrewes each have their own identity, celebrating and cosplaying various themes and characters from nerd culture. “Star Wars” is heavily represented, with the parade namesake Wookie Warrior Chewbaccas roaming the streets, joined by many Leias, Darth Vaders, Yodas, Ewoks, etc. There are also fans of “Star Trek,” “Dr. Who,” “Sharknado,” Wonder Woman, Pokémon, unicorns, zombies and, if the rumors are true this year, Cher. Any and all nerdy pursuits are welcomed and encouraged.
For fans of the brief but beloved television show “Firefly,” watch for the Browncoat Brass Band and The Companionettes. They’ll be in prime position No. 5 immediately preceding the king of this year’s parade, actor Brian O’Halloran, who helped make the movie “Clerks” a cult classic and taught us all that we don’t want to work in a Quick Stop convenience store.
Native New Orleanian and dear friend of mine, Patty Lopez, is dancing with The Companionettes for the first time this year after rolling for a few years in the subkrewe K.R.A.P. (Krewe of Really Awesome Parodies). She explains the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus thusly: “It's like if Comic Con and Mardi Gras had a baby, it would be Chewbacchus.”
“When I first saw this parade as a bystander, I loved watching the different themes and krewes pass by and I could say, ‘Hey! I get that reference!’ or ‘Wow! I love that show/movie,’” explained Lopez. “You feel welcome with these people who get the weird obscure things from the fandoms that you obsess over.”
Lopez is always impressed with the creativity of the participants and the flair they bring to Mardi Gras.
“These people put so much effort in their costumes and contraptions it's amazing to see the outcome,” said Lopez. “Plus, the throws have to be handmade so you know you'll be getting something worth keeping rather than a pack of plastic beads. My first Chewbacchus I got a bag of ‘tauntaun droppings’ that were just Whoppers candy in a bag, but let me tell you that throw was both memorable and delicious.”
As a Companionette, Lopez will be throwing folding hand fans that she has decorated with the Firefly/Serenity theme.
The parade rolls at 7 p.m. from Press Street and Chartres Street. It makes a full circle using North Peters Street, Frenchmen Street, St. Claude Avenue and back to Press Street. View the route here. Be sure to watch this year’s parade for a miniature replica of downtown New Orleans where landmark statues have been replaced by nerd heroes.