“Our mission,” proclaims the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus, “is saving the galaxy one nerd at a time.”
This year, the delightfully named krewe will be saving more nerds than ever before. IKOC, the fastest-growing Mardi Gras krewe, expects to roll with over 800 members in its 2014 parade. Its tongue-in-cheek name pays homage to yowling Star Wars Wookiee and the Sunday night super-krewe Bacchus. Chewbacchus is unlike any other krewe on the parade route: it’s completely a D.I.Y. krewe, favoring self-styled contraptions over bulky floats, and it focuses on sci-fi elements. This year’s theme “The Wrath of Khan-ival” nods to Star Trek and parade-goers can expect Star Trek royalty to appear as the parade’s “king”. Last year’s theme was “Return of the Wookiee”, the krewe honored Star Wars actor Peter Mayhew by crowning him “Emperor for Life” and parading him down the street in a homemade Millennial Falcon.
Chewbacchus began as a drunken joke at a bar, which won’t be much of a surprise to anyone who has seen the krewe’s beer-containing mascot Bar2D2. The krewe’s leader, King Chewbaccabra Ryan Ballard, founded the krewe in 2011 to combine his love for sci-fi, Mardi Gras, and the creative arts. In that humble first year, the parade rolled backwards up Saint Charles- the only parade to ever roll in that direction on purpose in Mardi Gras history. The following year, membership swelled and the krewe carved out a better parade route for itself in the Marigny. It evolved to not only embrace sci-fi but also fantasy and horror, after an outcry from unicorn fans when they were initially excluded from the group unless they had rocket-thrusters. The krewe continues to allow anyone to join, as long as they pay their membership dues, and observes a strict rule that members must create their throws, costumes and contraptions- even the towering Millennium Falcon that tops 30 mph.
For months before the big reveal on parade day, sci-fi geeks, fantasy fans and even ninjas gather at the Krewe’s mothership, a cavernous warehouse in the Marigny next door to Krewe du Vieux’s Den (KdV members’ affectionate name for their building space). During Wednesday nights, members work on their throws, contraptions and floats, readying themselves for the parade.
For those of you who enjoy the weird, the funky and the creative, put Chewbacchus on your do-not-miss list for Mardi Gras. The parade will consist of over 800 sci-fi revelers, decked out in creative and ridiculous costumes. Check out the photo gallery below.
Parade Rolls on Saturday, February 22nd, at 8:00pm.
Parade Route starts and ends at 42 Architects’ Alley, winding through Frenchmen Street, St. Claude, and other Marigny streets.
For more information, go to http://chewbacchus.org/.