Chewbacchus goes big for 2016 Mardi Gras parade (photos)

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As I reported in my preview of the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus parade for 2016 in the New Orleans Advocate, the science fiction-inspired krewe had grown by leaps and bounds — to 1,500 members from 1,000 last year. Their parade Saturday (Jan. 30) gave evidence of this, with several more marching in the downtown parade that packed the streets of Faubourg Marigny and Bywater.

We watched the parade squeeze through Dauphine Street (at Marigny), and it was amazing how difficult it became getting in position; the crowds were sometimes three-deep, and often had to be moved back a bit like crowds are when marching bands walk in the larger krewe parades.

It was an even much larger parade than the large crowds that have now come to define the more modest Krewe of ‘tit Rex parade of shoebox floats that precedes Chewbacchus on Saturday. This has become, for me, the second most magical day of Carnival, outside of Mardi Gras itself — even it feels like it’s becoming a little too big.

Chewbacchus clearly thrives on a chaotic but creative energy, thanks in part to co-founder Ryan Ballard, who’s staged offseason events for the krewe that help keep it in the public eye and generate increased interest (and membership). But on Saturday, what also was clear was that there soon will be no sci-fi fantasy stone unturned given the myriad floats and signs and puns and characters all done up and made up. It was also fun to see “NCIS: New Orleans” cast members Rob Kercovich and Daryl “Chill” Mitchell parading with several crew members from the show.

NOTE: Apologies for the tepid quality of the photos, due to, cough cough, “technical issues.”

Krewe of ’tit Rex parade (photos)

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Each year, it seems, the ’tit Rex parade grows in every sense except the number and size of the floats themselves. This year seemed particularly jammed, especially at the staging area Saturday (Jan. 30) down the middle of the St. Roch Avenue neutral ground, with photographers jockeying with onlookers for ground-level position and a peek at the shoebox-size floats.

As I noted in my New Orleans Advocate preview, the krewe, in its eighth year, has become host to some of the city’s most creative people — a grouping of writers, artists, musicians and other performers. With membership capped and float number limited to 20, the krewe hopes to maintain the modest scope and tone of its parade, but it’s going to be a challenge, at least when viewed from the crowd. Also complicating the whole attendance thing is the explosion in size of the krewe that follows in the same neighborhood: the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus, whose massive parade now features 1,500 members (up from 1,000 in 2015) and several more marchers. It was a crazy scene in Faubourg Marigny, and some theorize that more people show up early for Chewbacchus and also get a peek at ‘tit Rex.

It will be interesting to see how the two parades will move forward for next year’s Carnival. But as these photos show, from the staging area, there’s still beauty in the little things.