The grandeur of Mardi Gras royalty, complete with secret societies, black tie balls and various invitation-only functions, dates back to the 1800’s. In recent years however, additional Mardi Gras krewes have formed that poke fun at the pomp & circumstance and strive for originality.
Krewe du Vieux is one of the first parades on the Mardi Gras calendar and focuses on local political scandals, outlandish news stories and inappropriate pop culture occurrences. Started in 1987, Krewe du Vieux and it’s sub-krewe, Krewe of Dilussion, begins in the Marigny and is one of the only parades allowed to march throughout the French Quarter. Members of this bawdy krewe distribute satire pamphlets, fake money and even condoms. Various local musicians, artists, writers, and colorful characters have reigned as King or Queen, including Danny Barker, Andrei Codrescu, Ernie K-Doe, Irma Thomas, Ronnie Virgets, and Dr. John. The krewe’s roast of New Orleans politicians and other celebrities can be brutal at times, but not to be missed.
As if the years of box office returns weren’t indication enough, there is a tremendous fan base for George Lucas’ Star Wars. New Orleans resident, Ryan Ballard, recognized the cult following and organized the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus as a Mardi Gras parade. Originally formed in 2011, Chewbacchus has over 500 members, operates a children’s art camp located at the float den and partners with several non profits local to New Orleans. Unlike the millions of dollars allocated to build traditional Mardi Gras floats for Endymion, the majority of Chewbacchus’ parade contraptions are environmentally friendly, made with recycled materials, and are human and electric powered. Chewbacchus, likely one of the most active krewes, hosts events all throughout the year including the National Underwear Parade, the Carrie Fischer Celebration of Life Parade and a Burning Man inspired event called Ignition Festival.