"The (Intergalactic) Krewe of Chewbacchus really isn't a Star Wars parade," says Ryan Ballard, co-founder of the krewe.
Chewbacchus has been more of a home to subkrewes devoted to Star Trek, Doctor Who and assorted sci-fi, but this year, the parade will feature many new Star Wars marching groups.
"We have multiple Sith groups this year," Ballard says. "And there's a Life of a Jedi group. They're supposed to have some light saber battles along the route."
While traditional Mardi Gras krewes have chosen all sorts of ancient gods and heroes for figureheads, Chewbacchus draws from a grand pantheon of popular culture, and it's one of many walking parades that have found their niche on the calendar a week before the final weekend of Carnival. Here are four walking parades this week.
Krewe of Cork
The krewe of wine enthusiasts, vintners and hospitality industry workers holds a series of wine dinners and parties in addition to a Friday afternoon French Quarter parade. The procession includes 406 krewe members, a high school marching band and Freddie Lonzo and the Cork Poppas, an all-star jazz band featuring Leroy Jones and others. Vintners Carlo Trinchero and Josh Phelps of Taken Winery serve as grand marshals, and the queen is former Baywatch star Kelly Vaughn. The post-parade party at the Royal Sonesta is open to the public (tickets $85, costumes encouraged). Visit www.kreweofcork for information.
The microkrewe celebrates its preference for the smaller things with the theme "No Big Deal." The procession of shoebox floats has a satirical bent, and no issue is too big, including some topical New Orleans subjects and national political campaigns. The procession starts at 5 p.m. Saturday on St. Roch Avenue behind St. Roch Market and circles the Marigny en route to the Ping Pong Ball at AllWays Lounge. The parade size is capped at 30 floats, but the parade grew to four bands this year, including Panorama Brass Band, Egg Yolk Jubilee and Slow Danger Brass Band. Visit www.titrexparade.com for information.
Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus
The krewe continues to expand its universe, growing from 1,000 members and 77 subkrewes last year to 1,500 members and 115 subkrewes at press time this year, Ballard says. For the first time, the group is accepting art cars in the lineup, and among the vehicles in the procession are a DeLorean decorated to match the time machine from Back to the Future and a replica of Ecto-1, the converted hearse from Ghostbusters. Crew from TV's NCIS: New Orleans have recreated the Mos Eisley Cantina from the first Star Wars movie, and the moving bar will be part of the procession. The parade starts at 7 p.m. Saturday at N. Peters and St. Ferdinand streets, proceeds to Frenchmen Street and finishes behind the krewe's den, where the Chewbacchanal features the Morning 40 Federation (dubbed the Morning 42 Federation for this event, in reference to The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy). Visit www.chewbacchus.org for information.
Mystic Krewe of Barkus
The canine krewe believes politics has gone to the dogs, and every mutt has his day. Just in time for the presidential primaries, the theme is "From the Dog House to the White House." Costumed dogs and escorts party in Armstrong Park beginning at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, and the parade through the French Quarter starts at 2 p.m. The 15-block route passes the reviewing stand at Good Friends Bar and returns to the park. Registration and parade information are available on www.barkus.org.