Parade? Community? It’s both! Chewbacchus takes the streets

Large glowing horse contraption being carried by a group of marchers in Chewbacchus

Story and photos by Jacklyn Leo, freshman at Lusher High School

The Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus is a parade made for nerds, by nerds where even the parade escorts get in on the fun by wearing red shirts as an homage to Star Trek. Created in the fall of 2010, although the archive only goes back as far as 2011, the parade is still going strong and growing every year. The parade begins at 7 pm and starts on Chartres near NOCCA and ends at the same spot.

A man in a Pikachu costume marching in a Pokemon themed krewe named Krewe du Chu

Similarly to other parades, Chewbacchus has throws based on the theme of the parade or the sub-krewe, which is always something relating to nerd culture, and usually high concept science fiction based. However, the difference is that almost all of the throws are handmade, and the ones that aren’t are personalized. The throws you get at Chewbacchus you can’t get anywhere else, except of course the throw swap that happened a week before the parade.

The costumes are also incredible, and just like the throws, many are hand made. Of course you always have the leftover Halloween costumes, but a lot of the costumes are cosplay level. The costumes that aren’t based off of films and tv are usually beautiful pieces of art with flashing lights and elaborate designs.

Large Contraption from the sub krewe of Space Vikings

Although Chewbacchus is similar to most parades, it sets itself apart by not really having floats. Instead, the marchers have contraptions, some are floats, but most are large papier-mâché figures that embody the theme of their sub krewe. Some contraptions are moved by the power of technology, but typically the krewes push them forward with bikes, golf carts, or simply with manpower and determination. A lot of krewes will use these contraptions as DJ booths or emergency snack stations, but overall, they are for decoration, and decorative they are. One particularly memorable one was the large white bull tailing the Space Vikings krewe.

It’s clear that Chewbacchus is a very unique parade, but it isn’t just that. There are currently over 100 sub krewes, and new ones join each year. The parade is so popular that it had to be moved to its own weekend, making it one of the first large parades to kick off the season. The parade brings the people who would prefer to be at home watching their favorite show outside into a community of people like them. Chewbacchus is a way to bring the New Orleans nerd subcultures into the mainstream. Many of the krewes have popular Facebook pages that are active all year around. While Chewbacchus provides a fun unifying experience for one night, it also helps build the fandom community in New Orleans and it’s getting bigger every year.

A girl walks the parade in a gym wheel

This is exact reason that Chewbacchus was created. On their website it says “The mission of the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus is to save the galaxy by bringing the magical revelry of Mardi Gras to the disenfranchised, socially awkward and generally weird masses who may have never had the opportunity to participate in a mardi gras parade organization. Through our works, we hope to elevate all aspects of fandom and celebrate Carnival in our unique way.” They’ve created a way for people who generally avoid people and crowds and have given them a way to express their interest with people who share their passions.

Chewbacchus does its best to build on this community all year round. They have social events throughout the year and have an archive of articles that mention them, and the social media pages are active all of the time. The Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus does its best to grow the fandom community and it’s safe to say that it succeeds. It’s also safe to say that this parade isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.