Many headlines of 2016 reported on the deaths of celebrities and public figures. There was no slowing down as the year came to a close with the passing of beloved actress, writer, mental health advocate, and rebel Princess, Carrie Fisher. As the internet exploded with well wishes to family and remembrances from friends, here in New Orleans a group of fans celebrated the life of Princess Leia the best way they know how; with a parade.
The Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus, a growing Mardi Gras krewe who began in 2011, were quick to organize the memorial, “To Me, She’s Royalty: A Parade to Honor Carrie Fisher.” Word of the event spread like wildfire and New Orleans residents and nerds lined the streets on Friday afternoon, Dec. 30th, to honor the late leader of the rebellion. Days before, I had the chance to ask Ryan Ballard, Space Commander Chewbaccacabra, Overlord – Master of Conceptual Chaos, Publicity Stunt Man and President of the BacchanALIEN Empire, a few questions about the event and the krewe.
Trey Guillory: For those not familiar, how did the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus begin?
Ryan Ballard: As a bar room joke about the need for nerds to have a place in Mardi Gras.
TG: Star Wars is a big theme for your Krewe, but what other fandoms and genres are showcased in the parade?
RB: Chewbacchus celebrates all aspects of pop culture fandom with loving parodies of every aspect of Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Horror, from Dune to Lord of the Rings to the Walking Dead.
TG: Carrie Fisher was set to appear at New Orleans Comic Con in a couple of weeks. Did your Krewe, or individual members, have any plans to try and meet her?
RB: We planned to present her with a dozen roses and a basket of handmade Chewbacchus gifts to her and her dog Gary.
TG: What significance does Carrie Fisher, or Princess/Gen. Leia, hold for you
RB: Carrie Fisher was a strong, beautiful, fearless woman with a wry sense of humor. She brought these traits to her role as Princess Leia, the leader of the Rebel Alliance. She was an icon for Feminism and Secular Humanism.
TG: Had you the chance to meet Carrie Fisher, is there anything you’d like to tell her?
RB: She inspired me to respect and value women from a very early age. She was capable and fearless and the equal to any man.
TG: Thank you for your time and for holding this parade in Carrie Fisher’s memory.
The memorial parade marched through New Orleans showcasing costumes and constructions in honor of Carrie Fisher and in celebration of Star Wars and the sci-fi genre. They will also make an appearance at Wizard World New Orleans Comic Con on the weekend of January 6th, 2017. Then, on February 18th, 2017, they will march for their seventh annual carnival parade under the theme “The Revel Alliance.”