Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Mardis Gras Wookies

It turns out the Mardis Gras Indians are not the only counterculture response to the traditional Carnival. Although rooted in a drunken joke rather than any sort of racial or political foundation, the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus are similar to the Maris Gras Indians in that they are finding their own niche in response to the festivals of Mardis Gras. The Chewbacchus are named for Han Solo’s trusty co pilot in Star Wars, as well as the Roman god of wine. This year, they held their all things sci-fi parade the Saturday before Fat Tuesday. Last year, in their inaugural run, they drew over 400 members.
The parade is pretty self-explanatory: a bunch of people who like Star Wars decided to have a sci-fi themed Mardis Gras. This may seem extremely different from the Mardis Gras Indians, but the two groups do have some distinct similarities. The Chewbacchus seek to be inclusive: “‘With other krewes, people pay thousands of dollars to pay artists that make their floats for them,’ said Ryan Ballard, one of the Chewbacchus founders. ‘We want to make a place for people to do it themselves.’” Furthermore, to ride on a float, one need not submit recommendations or put their name on a waiting list. While there are still dues to ride, they are a relatively negligible $42 dollars, a number referencing Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The Chewbacchus have created a new space for people to seek celebration and solidarity within an established tradition. As someone who understood all the references made in the article where I learned about this Star Wars Mardis Gras, I think that’s pretty cool. 

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