Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus parade has spectators getting in on the fun

You’d think five Chewbaccas strolling into Café Flora deep in Faubourg Marigny would be taking a break from their trudging along with the rest of the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus walkers.

You would be wrong. Barely.

Once unmasked, Anna Burnham, Chelsea Nicole, Stephanie Dovalina, Alyson Kilday and John Clark admitted they were so inspired by the krewe's 2013 Mardi Gras season parade that they decided they should dress up accordingly for the 2014. One bold purchase online from WalMart, and the deed was done.

“I even walked with the krewe for a little while, and they wouldn’t let me leave!” said Dovalina, a lawyer, during their break from the fun Saturday as the krewe marched for the fourth time downtown.

Turns out the friends hatched the scheme last summer “over drinks” — not exactly a Mardi Gras rarity — and even attended the Chewbacchus fundraiser in January at the Howlin' Wolf. They entered what they thought was a costume contest but in reality was a talent contest. They danced. They lost. They had a blast. (See video below.)

So it goes with the hyper-popular Chewbacchus, which in just a few years has gained, well, intergalactic acclaim. Maybe it’s the stormtroopers. Maybe it’s the (new) “Ladies of Star Trek.” Maybe it’s the music, courtesy of groups like the Dead Music Capital Band, which cranks out a wicked version of the “Cantina Theme” from “Star Wars.”

But all that costuming sure gets everybody else in a dressed-up lather. It gets them creative.

“Chewbacchus has that DIY spirit, that nerdy energy,” said Andy Baker, a 45-year-old wetlands biologist with the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, dressed in an orange jumpsuit and preparing to carry his own version of a “kaiju flambeaux” (the Japanese word for “monster”). “There’s a creativity to all this, a fellowship. It’s just so creative and inspiring."

This year’s theme for the parade was "The Wrath of Khan-ival," New this year was the Barship Enterprise, along with almost 100 "Rolling Elliots" in red hoodies and moving along on bicycles with the famed “E.T.” in their baskets. (OK, one had a keg. The krewe is, after all, a “mobile, drunken version of Comic Con.")

While the krewe rolled a little past its scheduled time, no one seemed to complain. Many already had gotten their downtown parade fix hours earlier with the formerly named Krewe of ‘tit Rex and were happy to wait for the homemade throws that included decorated bandoliers, bean bags, flying discs, stuffed animals and custom beads.

The krewe is so inclusive that even the invited musicians get to parade, which made Baton Rouge’s Stephen Beck and Kathy Carroll happy. Beck, 45, is the director of the School of Music at Louisiana State University, and his Louisiana Laptop Orchestra — a mix of his students and friends — got to dress up and walk. Beck costumed as Obi-Wan Kenobi (or “Old Ben,” as he called himself). Carroll went along as R2D2.

It was their first Chewbacchus. They were thrilled.

“It’s absolutely a blast,” said Beck as they made the corner from St. Claude Avenue onto Franklin Avenue and toward the thousands of spectators gathered outside Mimi’s, Cutter’s, the Lost Love Lounge and other bars. “We’re trying to get our students interested in different kinds of music-making, and you can tell this inspires them.”

Carroll agreed: "I've seen some costumes here that are as good as the ones in the krewe, if not better." She must've stopped off at Flora's.

The krewe wound up at the Trash Palace for its 2014 Chewbacchanal, which featured Gypsyphonic Disko, Dead Music Capital Brass Band, Louisiana Laptop Orchestra and the Browncoat Brass Band. A Post-Chewbacchanal was to follow at The Maison.