LAST WEEKEND I WAS AT a bachelor party in New Orleans. It was two weeks before Mardi Gras, and the festivities had already started. So I reached out to some friends who were familiar with the town for advice: What should we do?
All of them said, “Chewbacchus.”
Aside from bead-throwing revelry, New Orleans Mardi Gras is most famous for its Krewes. A Krewe is a group of people that puts on a parade, and there are dozens of Krewes that have parades over the several weeks leading up to Mardi Gras. One of the most famous of these is the Krewe of Bacchus, in reference to the god of wine.
In 2010, though, a new crew was formed: The Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus. It’s a parade for nerds. And it is everything.
A long time ago…
The Krewe was first formed in 2010, and is relatively cheap to join for a Krewe, at $42 (42, of course, is the answer to life, the universe, and everything, according to Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy).
The motto of the Krewe is “Saving the galaxy… one drunken nerd at a time.” And despite the name, the parade is by no means confined to Star Wars fandom — when we went, we saw everything from Star Wars to Rick and Morty to Miyazaki.
Oh, we also saw a Deadmau5 Death Star.
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There was also a parade of dancing Princess Leia’s singing “Somebody Who Loves Me,” (among other things).
There were, of course, Ziggy Stardust tributes.
And a giant, mobile port-a-potty called a “Storm Pooper” for those who couldn’t find a nearby toilet in the crowd.
Members of the Krewe are called “BacchanALIENs.”
They also take an environmentally-friendly approach: all of the floats are either man- or electric-powered, and “throws,” referring to the typical Mardi Gras beads that are tossed from floats, must be handmade.
The Krewe is famous for orchestrating hoaxes and pranks. One year, it claimed a Bigfoot was on the loose in New Orleans, attracting the attention of actual Bigfoot enthusiasts, only to later claim it had been a “drunken Wookiee.”
After their first year (which was more sci-fi oriented), they staged a protest by a splinter group called “the Mystik Krewe of P.U.E.W.C.,” or “People for the inclusion of Unicorns, Elves, and Winebots in Chewbacchus,” which expanded the parade into all of nerd culture — fantasy included.
Amazing. 😍😍😍 @Regrann from @nolabeings – "I am Queen Amidala and she is Baby Leia and we have been members of Chewbacchus since the very beginning, when they marched the wrong way down St. Charles on Bacchus Sunday. My son over there, he was a mini Chewbacca the first year – Baby Chewy. We've kept this tradition – every year we do special costumes with our kids. Last year I was pregnant with her, so I was Princess Leia and I had a sign that said 'Spoiler Alert: He kills Hans Solo' pointing at my belly. I love that when you live in New Orleans, your kids get to be part of something like this. It's so amazing. Our kids think that this is normal – to be able to march in a parade and give things away. We make these throws for hundreds and hundreds of people – and they just think that that's a regular thing." #nolabeings #neworleans #chewbacchus #mardigras2017 #starwars #nolanewsgram
It was one of the best things I’ve ever seen. Mardi Gras is already incredible, and you should put it on your to-do list. But if you’re going, consider skipping the worst of the crowds and going a week early and taking part in Chewbacchus. The nerd in you will not be disappointed.