Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus
The Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus is a science fiction–themed Mardi Gras krewe, or parade organization. Based in New Orleans, Louisiana, As of the 2017 parade, The Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus has over 2000 dues-paying members who call themselves "ChewbacchanALIENs". It describes its mission as "to save the galaxy by bringing the magical revelry of Mardi Gras to the poor, disenfranchised, socially awkward and generally weird masses who may have never had the opportunity to participate in a Mardi Gras Parade Organization," and aims to "elevate all aspects of Fandom and celebrate Carnival in our own unique way." In short, "saving the galaxy, one drunken nerd at a time!" 
The group was founded by self-styled "Publicity Stuntman" and conceptual artist Ryan S Ballard and curator/events director Kirah Haubrich in the fall of 2010. They were soon joined by local attorney Brett Powers, and together they comprise the three "Overlords" of the Krewe. Chewbacchus marched for the first time during Mardi Gras 2011 near the Uptown parade route on "Bacchus" Sunday as a satiric mashup of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, and Chewbacca, the Wookiee from Star Wars. Their signature parade contraption and mascot is a 7-foot-tall "Bar2D2" that dispenses alcoholic beverages pulled by a "XXX-Wing" tricycle.
Parade Themes and Royalty
Mardi Gras krewes select a new theme for their parades each year and a new king and/or queen to reign over them. Chewbacchus often selects people from the entertainment industry and creates playful titles for its royalty, as listed below.
- 2011 Theme: BacchnALIEN Invasion. Queen Cynthia Scott (actress from the movie Aliens) and Emperor for Life Peter Mayhew (actor who played the character of Chewbacca in Star Wars). Because Peter Mayhew could not attend, the krewe nominated Lil Doogie (a locally notorious foul-mouthed comedic puppet rapper) as the "Ad Hoc Puppet Government".
- 2012 Theme: Chewbaccalypse. King Giorgio Tsoukalos (consulting producer of the History Channel's Ancient Aliens series) was crowned "Lord of the Chewbaccalypse".
- 2013 Theme: Return of the Wookiee. King Peter Mayhew, also Emperor for Life, finally rode with the krewe in a "Cosmic Triumph" for Chewbacchus. His wife, Angie, served as Royal Consort. They rode in an oversized Wookiee Throne on top of a spectacularly detailed Millennium Falcon contraption.
- 2014 Theme: Wrath of Khan-ival. King Chester Simmons was selected randomly from among the Chewbacchus parade escorts, hard-working volunteers who help clear the path for the parade and provide assistance to participants. In order to select its King or Queen, at the volunteer orientation immediately before the parade, the krewe provided volunteers with king cake and replaced the traditional baby in the cake with a Wookiee. King Chester Simmons happened to get the slice with the Wookiee.
- 2015 Theme: Cult of the Sacred Drunken Wookiee. King/"Pope" Andy Richter (sidekick from Conan O'Brien's late-night show), Emperor for Life Peter Mayhew, and Queen/Royal Consort Angie Mayhew.
- 2016 Theme: Chewluminati: Nerd World Order. Supreme Lizard King of the Chewluminati Keith Green, who won a contest called Mystery of the Chewluminati, a conceptual scavenger hunt.
- 2017 Theme: The Revel Alliance. The Krewe welcomed Ross Marquand (best known for playing Aaron on AMC's hit series The Walking Dead) as the King of the Revel Alliance.
Floats and Throws
Mardi Gras krewes often ride on trailers, vehicles, or other contraptions commonly referred to as floats. They also throw necklaces, toys, and other items (referred to as "throws") to the crowd as their ride along parade routes. While many krewes purchase expensive floats from professional production studios and ask their members to pay thousands of dollars for dues and throws, Chewbacchus takes a more DIY approach. One parade night, members distribute coveted handmade throws with minimal packaging to cut down on waste. All of the Krewe's parade contraptions make an effort to be environmentally-friendly, made with recycled materials and often human-powered. These contraptions are pushed, pedaled, or pulled on frames of bicycles, homemade trailers, and shopping carts.
The Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus is responsible for some notable hoaxes and publicity stunts and has been praised for its clever pranks. It kicked off its 2012 season with a guerrilla marketing campaign centered on an elaborate Bigfoot hoax by a fake organization, the New Orleans Bigfoot Society (N.O.B.S.), that claimed that Sasquatch lurked in New Orleans City Park. After generating controversy among both the media and the Bigfoot research community, the creature was eventually revealed to be a "Drunken Wookiee". During the summer of 2012 the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus expanded its fan base beyond Science Fiction to include Fantasy and Horror and announced it with a publicity stunt by organizing a fake protest by the "Mystik Krewe of P.U.E.W.C. (People for the inclusion of Unicorns, Elves, and Winebots in Chewbacchus)" at its second annual Alien Beach Party at Tipitina's. In late November 2012, the krewe was responsible for a prank website that quickly drew the ire of NASA by announcing that the Curiosity rover had located Mardi Gras beads on Mars and that the famous Martian "face" was in fact a Wookiee temple. As a gesture of goodwill the Overlords of Chewbacchus offered the entire Mars Rover team free memberships in the Krewe.
Issues and Parades
The Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus is remarkable for its rapid pace of growth and popularity among local New Orleanians, gaining momentum from a small core group in its first few weeks to over 300 dues-paying members in its first year. Membership grew to 400 members in 2012. Over 500 dues-paying members marched in the 2013 parade and estimates place audience attendance at approximately 20,000 people. By 2016, membership reached over 1200 ChewbacchanALIENs.
One of the reasons for the rapid growth of Chewbacchus is the open nature of the parade—anyone can join for a relatively small fee, as compared to other krewes that can be invitation-only.
In addition to its parade during Mardi Gras, the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus also hosts PUEWC Fest ("People for the inclusion of Unicorns, Elves, and Whinebots in Chewbacchus"), National Underwear Day Parade and Ignition Festival.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus.|
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