sculpted R2-D2 droid, specially emblazoned with a fleur-de-lis, is towed along
Elysian Fields via bicycle. Princess Leia busily coordinates logistics in the
late afternoon. Jack Sparrow saunters along the neutral ground.
rare to see a carnival krewe that has risen to prominence as quickly as The
Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus, a walking-heavy group that specializes in
pop culture, fandom, and cosplay. Beginning its parading in 2011 and now
boasting over 2000 different members in several themed walking groups,
Chewbacchus' open membership and indie style have given it a very egalitarian,
upbeat presence in the New Orleans Mardi Gras. Having finished its parade route
through the Marigny and Downtown, Chewbacchus' annual afterparty, the "Chewbacchanal,"
proved to be a carnival celebration like none other.
had fallen outside Harrah's Casino as the different Chewbacchus walking krewes
arrived and got ready to enter the Fillmore Theater. Once inside, the
geek-tailored vibe was apparent almost immediately. The coat check was in full
force, where Bowser's spiked koopa shell hung nonchalantly beside the
overcoats. On the dance floor in front of the Fillmore's stage, Super Mario danced
the robot, steps away from who I'm pretty sure I recognized as Inigo Montoya
from The Princess Bride. Various patrons wore detailed Tetris pieces
over their figures, and it was only later that I noticed a detailed display of
stacked Tetris blocks neatly assorted in a side corner. One of the evening's
more interesting highlights was a custom-made cocktail for patrons, the "Qui
Gon Gin." Named after the Jedi Knight of prequels' fame, the cocktail combined
citrus and melon flavors for a tropical sweetness and a rich green color.
of Chewbacchus' composition of a multitude of organized walking groups, the
afterparty saw an amorphously wide, yet expertly-matching selection of costumes
from across sci-fi and fandom. One of the largest was the "Space Vikings," a
group of several dozen warriors sporting white battle gear and elaborate horned
helmets. The "Krewe du Who" was named for those associating with the Dr. Who
fandom, and the "Krewe du Moon" featured cosplayers from the magical girl anime
Sailor Moon. The "Krewe du Chu" took its name from the mascot of the Pokémon series, and its members ranged in costume from the
most famous of its collectible monsters all the way to an obscure placeholder
that's only obtainable as a glitch in the series' first games (that's attention
to detail, I promise). I could go on with a lot more of the crazy groups
enjoying the evening, but it would take several paragraphs trying to do full
justice to the extent of the groups and their creative ingenuity.
night's music was provided by musical artists including People Museum and
Mannie Fresh. Near the end of the first set, a technical hiccup somewhere
actually had the main lights of the theater come on from the low-lighting that
had set most of the evening's ambience. This was swiftly resolved, but it also gave
me a chance to get a closer look at the sheer diversity of groups enjoying one
of Mardi Gras' biggest new krewes. These are people, of all ages and interests,
celebrating in every way from elaborate personal cosplay to massive hand-made
contraptions. Pop culture and fandom are in many ways more popular than ever
before, and Chewbacchus is a one-of-a-kind celebration merging that personal
expression with the best of New Orleans Mardi Gras. Given the size of the krewe
and the egalitarian celebration of fandom it provides, I suspect that
Chewbacchus is going to be partying across the galaxy for a long time to come.
The Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus paraded through the Marigny on February 5, 2022. The organization hosts multiple year-round events starting on International Star Wars Day (May the 4th), and more information can be found on its website and Facebook.