It's a blast-off from the past. The first Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus Mardi Gras parade took place on March 6, 2011, on a Central City route that began at the Big Top art gallery on Clio Street. The first theme was "BacchanALIEN Invasion." The queen was actress and WWNO announcer Cynthia Scott (Cpl. Dietrich from the movie "Aliens"), and the king was online video puppet personality Lil Doogie.
As NOLA.com reporter Doug MacCash (me) wrote in a story published that day: "The concept of the Krewe of Chewbacchus was launched -- where else -- at the Saturn Bar on St. Claude Avenue.
"During Carnival 2010, a New Orleans newcomer asked Kirah Haubrich, co-owner of the Big Top, why there weren't more "Star Trek," "Star Wars" and other sci-fi costumes in the Mardi Gras mix? She had no answer."
"An idea flashed through Haubrich's mind like a photon torpedo. What if there were a Carnival krewe dedicated to all things extraterrestrial? You could call it ... Chewbacchus, combining the name of the furry "Star Wars" sidekick with the Roman god of wine.
"Brilliant. Supernova brilliant.
"But, Haubrich says, she knew she'd never get the idea into orbit on her own. When she ran into Ryan Ballard in the neon glow of the Saturn, she proffered her nebulous plan.
"Ballard, an energetic puppeteer and artist, skilled in the production of props and rolling bicycle contraptions, was, in Haubrich's view, the perfect person to take command of the krewe to be. Haubrich serves as krewe co-captain.
"'As soon as the word Chewbacchus was spoken, I was like, Oh, I see it. I know exactly how we're going to do this,'" Ballard said of his tractor beam-like attraction to the project. The Chewbacchus parade would be a costumed march a la the Society of St. Anne, sprinkled with bands and minifloats. It would begin at the Big Top and follow a unique route through Central City, boldly going, as krewe members will tell you, where no Carnival parade had gone before.
"Friends were enlisted in the plan. Enthusiasm spread like tribbles. The general consensus was, Ballard said, 'Why haven't we done this before?'"
And the rest, as they say (way too often), is history.
The 2017 Chewbachus parade takes place at 7 p.m. on Saturday (Feb. 18) on a route through the Marigny and Bywater neighborhoods. For a map, go to the Chewbacchus Facebook page.