New Orleans 'Star Wars' parade sends Chewbacchus into French Quarter

NEW ORLEANS -- In a unique mashup of cultures -- one from a galaxy far, far away; the other from a New Orleans bar -- a Mardi Gras parade club is celebrating the premiere of the latest "Star Wars" movie with Wookiee and Jedi costumes, a brass band and a parade into the French Quarter.

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The Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus (motto: "Saving the galaxy one drunken nerd at a time") planned early screenings of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" for 100 of its officers. The first Thursday evening screening was to be followed by a New Orleans-style "second line" march into the French Quarter. Members in garb from fantasy and science fiction were to be accompanied by a brass band playing a medley of "Star Wars" tunes -- including the jaunty music from the cantina full of aliens in the original film.

"It's a big, spinning, crazy nerd party on wheels," krewe co-founder Ryan Ballard said ahead of the march.

Ballard said the krewe's genesis dates back about six years to a conversation he and a friend were having at, fittingly, the Saturn Bar. Topics included the furry co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon spaceship in the "Star Wars" franchise.

"It was a barroom joke," Ballard said. "If there was a nerd krewe, it should be a mashup of Chewbacca and Bacchus, the god of wine."

Chewbacchus was born. And the group grew from a few hundred early participants to roughly 1,000 now. Their annual Mardi Gras season parade generally takes a different meandering route through New Orleans neighbourhoods each year.

Ballard said Thursday's early "Force Awakens" screenings were arranged for krewe leaders who are instrumental in the group's community outreach efforts, including food drives and programs to help disadvantaged children participate in Mardi Gras events.


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