Carnival hits Marigny streets Saturday when the DIY krewes Chewbacchus and ’tit Rx roll through the downtown neighborhood.
First up is ’tit Rx, which rolls at 5 p.m. from St. Roch Tavern. With miniature floats inspired by the shoeboxes of schoolchildren’s Carnival art projects, the krewe aims to keep the organization small and intimate.
“Due to our self-imposed mandate to be a micro-krewe…there are usually around 30 floats,” said founder Jeremy Yuslum.
Members dress formally, pulling the ornately decorated floats at a leisurely pace for the viewing pleasure of the parade-goers. Despite its diminutive nature, ’tit Rx has grown quite a large fanbase. Yuslum says “spectators make tiny doll-sized spectators to watch the tiny parade. It shines a ray of joy into my heart.”
The theme of this year’s parade is “Bare Minimum,” although the designs remain mostly a mystery until parade day. Two float themes that have been revealed are “Barely Punished” and “.07/Drive-Thru Daiquiri Shop.”
The krewe, which shares a love of New Orleans culture and crafting, offers miniature throws such as bracelets, rubber balls and handmade beads. Panorama and Slow Danger Brass Band and Egg Yolk Jubilee will accompany the krewe.
Why create a micro-krewe?
“We just wanted to contribute to the season in our own small way,” Yuslum said.
Since settling a dispute over its name with the very big Carnival organization Rex last year, the official spelling of the krewe’s name utilizes a schwa, the linguistic symbol resembling an upside-down “e.”
To celebrate the krewe’s fifth year, a mini-retrospective art show featuring floats from years past is on display at Lost Love Lounge through Feb. 2.
After the parade, the krewe will host the “Gallier Small and Ping Pong Ball” at AllWays Lounge.
Visit the krewe’s new website at titrexparade.com post-parade to view photo galleries dedicated to this year’s fans.
While ’tit Rx is the smallest Carnival krewe, the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus is the city’s fastest-growing krewe, expanding from 300 to 500 members in its three short years.
Chewbacchus starts Saturday at 8 p.m. from the Den of Muses at St. Ferdinand and Chartres streets.
The krewe has also grown in thematic scope. What began as a paean to science fiction — its make-believe deity, the Sacred Drunken Wookie, is a combination of Star Wars’ Chewbacca and Bacchus, the god of wine and revelry — has now evolved into an inclusive krewe for those who love sci-fi, horror, fantasy and the supernatural.
“We opened the krewe to fantasy and horror fandom over the summer, and now have 10 different sub-krewes who all roll with their own themes, costumes and contraptions,” said co-founder and overlord Ryan S. Ballard.
Chewbacchus is as green and DIY as they come. Members take tremendous pride in designing and building elaborate floats powered by tricycles and electric motors.
They don’t skimp on their costumes either: All manner of creatures from Stormtroopers, Mr. Spocks, Princess Leias, Dr. Who police boxes, zombies and aliens walk and ride amongst giant puppets, marching bands and robotic alcohol delivery systems.
The krewe’s mascot is the towering Bar2D2, which of course serves adult beverages to members along the route.
The krewe’s throws are intricately handmade. Expect to see “signature Chewbacchus bandoliers, Wookiee Cooziees, custom beads, beanbags and frisbees,” says Ballard.
This year is particularly exciting for the dedicated krewe that Ballard says “is sort of like a cult.” Peter Mayhew, the actor who played Chewbacca in the Star Wars movies — accompanied by his wife and royal consort, Angie — will reign as King of the Chewbacchanaliens. Hence this year’s theme: “Return of the Wookiee.”
The Mayhews will ride in the custom-built Millennium Falcon golf cart, a spectacularly detailed creation that required “hundreds of hours over the last several months,” said Ballard, and “is not to be missed.”
Chewbacchanal, the krewe’s after-party, takes place at 2830 Royal St. and is open to the public. Visit chewbacchus.org for details.