Every carnival season in New Orleans, the Intergalactic Krewe Of Chewbacchus, the group that takes every nerd’s favorite pastime of dressing up like their favorite characters and adds the hallowed New Orleans traditions of getting drunk and dancing in the street, holds its annual parade. But one night of costumed revelry is clearly not enough, and so earlier this year the IKOC partnered with NOLA-based hot dog chain Dat Dog to open a place where Star Wars fanatics can party year-round anchored by a giant six-armed, three-eyed Chewbacca statue above the bar.
“We’re all kind of a bunch of nerds over here, so we were just really stoked that they were interested in partnering with us,” Dat Dog’s Victoria VerHagen tells The A.V. Club in an interview. She adds that, since the installation of the Wookiee, Dat Dog has added even more Star Wars-themed decor to the room, including a cosmic ceiling mural and a miniature Ewok village. “It’s in the corner by the wall so you don’t notice it at first, and then you’re like ‘oh my God, look at all those Ewoks,” she says with a laugh.
Speaking of tiny things, today being May the 4th and all, tonight the IKOC will be formally dedicating its Chewbacchus Temple after the “Shoeboxus” parade, an annual kid-friendly alternative to the IKOC bacchanal featuring miniature versions of carnival floats. “A lot of the krewe members make miniature floats with their kids and then bring them out for Shoeboxus,” Ryan Ballard, Space Commander Chewbaccacabra: Overlord and Conceptual Artist for the IKOC (yep, that’s his real title) tells The A.V. Club.
“We have a miniature version of the Mechagator, we have a miniature version of Bar-2D2,” Ballard says as if all this is the most natural thing in the world, adding that tonight, the krewe’s unicorn-themed group will be rolling with an actual My Little Pony instead of a giant My Little Pony. (Naturally.)This years theme is “NOL-ier Than Thou,” a good-natured jab at what Ballard describes as the “self-appointed culture czars in New Orleans” who tend to look sideways at Chewbacchus’ irreverent pop-culture-based antics. As for Ballard, he’s painted a TIE Fighter toy pink—”Like a little pink Cadillac TIE fighter,” he says—with a Minnie Mouse hula dancer figurine and a miniature banner reading “Pop Culture Perversions.”
Immediately following the parade will be a party at Dat Dog, featuring IKOC-themed cocktails like the Jedi (a Long Island Iced Tea with melon liquor) and the Sith (fireball, vodka, grenadine, and ginger beer) as well as a special Wookiee Weiner (andouille sausage with andouille sauce, sauerkraut, grilled onions, and chipotle mayo). As well as being fun to say out loud when ordering, $1 from the sales of each Wookiee Weiner will go towards the STOMP Troopers, a program that makes marching in parades accessible to kids with autism.
The parade starts and ends tonight at Dat Dog at 601 Frenchmen St. in New Orleans; lineup starts at 6 p.m. CT and the parade starts rolling at 7, so you still have some time to get your costume together and head over. Kids roll free in the Shoeboxus parade, and participants are invited to enter the costume and shoebox float competitions starting at Dat Dog at 8:30.