(Photo: Krewe of Chewbacchus | Infrogmation | CC) The Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus, the Star Wars-named krewe known for its walking parade, announced Monday that it will cancel its Mardi Gras festivities scheduled later for this month due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Chewbacchus replaced its 11th annual walking parade with a self-guided tour of stationary subkrewes. This year’s theme was “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and was scheduled to run on Jan. 23.
The cancellation comes after New Orleans moved into modified Phase One restrictions on Friday due to surging rates of the coronavirus, which was reported at 10.4% last week–up from 5.5% the prior week, according to local health officials.
The krewe was already planning for its scaled-back walking tour, which was announced on Dec. 7. Instead, a virtual costume contest will now replace the walking tour.
“With the recent decision by the city of New Orleans to move to modified Phase 1, the 2021 celebration and all subKrewe activities will be halted,” according to Chewbacchus. “We are trusting the science and directing all krewe members to suspend their planned celebrations”
Instead, the krewe will hold a virtual costume contest and asking its krewe members, and the public, to post photos of their Chewbacchus costumes on Facebook and Instagram with the hashtag #chewbacchusnewreality2021.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced on Jan. 6 that the city will enter modified Phase One restrictions due to the surging coronavirus rate.
The restrictions, which will last three weeks or until Jan. 29, include limiting indoor business capacity to 25%, gathering sizes to no greater than a single household. Bars are prohibited from serving customers indoors, although to-go drinks are still allowed and outdoor seating is still allowed from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. New Orleans bars, breweries and live entertainment venues were ordered closed by 11 p.m.. Dec. 30.
“We’ve always made decisions based on data, every step of the way,” Cantrell said during a Jan. 6 press conference, citing a “serious issue with community spread.” “We’ve always made decisions based on data, every step of the way.”
Dr. Jennifer Avegno, director of New Orleans Health Department, said the city is averaging 200 new cases each day, indicating a major community outbreak with one in every person infected, on average.
“When you are with 10 other people, it is highly likely that one of them will have COVID-19,” Avegno said. “The more people who have it, the more will be hospitalized and more will die.”
New Orleans recorded a cumulative total of 23, 252 coronavirus infections and 689 deaths from the disease since the pandemic started in March, with an additional 380 new infections and two deaths reported Sunday.
City officials have released an vaccine distribution plan, with vaccinations of healthcare workers and nursing home residents beginning in December and essential workers likely up next this year.
(Photo: Krewe of Chewbacchus parade in 2016. | Infrogmation | CC Flickr) A self-navigated tour with decorated businesses and houses will replace Krewe of Chewbacchus’ signature walking procession, which was slated to roll next month but canceled due to a New Orleans ban on Mardi Gras parades issued in November as a measure to limit spread of COIVD-19.
The 11th annual event, dubbed the “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the New Reality – Volume One,” will include an online brochure with a map of stationary subkrewes issued within a week of the start date on Jan. 23, 2021, according to a Monday announcement from the krewe, formally called The Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus.
Each station represents a “chapter” in the guide where visitors along the route can receive Chewbacchus’ prized hand-made throws. The krewe announced that anyone not following the guidelines won’t receive a throw. Krewe members will also be masked and physically distanced 6 feet apart.
The Star Wars-named and science fiction-themed krewe held its first parade in 2010 and is also a nonprofit, and religion, or The Cult of the Sacred Drunken Wookie. In the past several years, the Chewbacchus parade has started in the Bywater and passed down Decatur Street in the French Quarter. It’s a walking only krewe, meaning members don’t ride on floats pulled by motor vehicles, but still have bikes or any type of human-powered “contraption” that’s able to roll.
“Chewbacchus will embark on its eleventh annual adventure, this time navigating the impossible terrain of socially distanced parading during a global pandemic,” the krewe said on Monday. “Life finds a way.”
While not outright canceling Mardi Gras 2021 itself, because it’s a religious holiday, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s decision to cancel parades was not formally announced even though the information was posted to the city’s website, according to spokesman Beau Tidwell during a Nov. 17 press conference.
“It’s not a matter [that] the information didn’t get out there, but it could’ve gone out more artfully,” Tidwell said. “I think the larger conversation has always been, given where we are, given the conditions, parading isn’t possible.”
A list of “criteria” and “recommendations” was issued by the Health Committee of the Mayor’s Mardi Gras Advisory Council and posted to the city’s website, including that krewes not organize any event that would cause crowds to grow beyond the 250-person limit for public gatherings set by Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards in March.
Spectators along the route will be encouraged to keep moving by participating in a treasure hunt-like contest to find a list of rare artifacts with clues that reveals the location of a grand prize package, which includes lifetime membership to the krewe and rights to the title of “Ultimate Survivor of the New Reality.”
The 2020 parades for the krewes of Zulu and Endymion will be rerouted around the French Quarter due to the Hard Rock Hotel collapse, a New Orleans city spokeswoman said on Tuesday.
Routes for Endymion and Zulu were modified this Mardi Gras season for public safety reasons due to the hotel collapse, said spokeswoman LaTonya Norton.
The Hard Rock Hotel partially collapsed on the morning of Oct. 12, killing Anthony Magrette, 49; Quinnyon Wimberly, 36; and Jose Ponce Arreola, 63.
An evacuation zone that prohibits public from passing through includes several streets surrounding the hotel, including the corner of North Rampart and Canal streets, which were traditionally part of the Zulu and Endymion parade routes.
This year’s Endymion parade route, which begins at City Park and Orleans avenue, will pass down Canal Street but hook a right down Elk Street, continue to Poydras Street, then turn left and continue to wind its way through the Central Business District until it reaches Julia Street and Convention Center Boulevard.
Zulu’s parade, which begins at Claiborne and Jackson avenues, will make its way to St. Charles Avenue and turn left on Poydras Street, then right onto Loyola Avenue and continue past Canal Street, completely avoiding the French Quarter.
The parades for Endymion and Zulu begin at 4:15 p.m. on Feb. 22 and 8 a.m. on Feb. 25, respectively.
Claiming to be guided by divine visions, Joan of Arc convinced a desperate King Charles VII of France to allow her to tag along with a relief army to the besieged city of Orleans in April 1429, according to historians.
Her mere presence is often credited for inspiring the liberation of the city from the English a week later and subsequently helping the French win several more battles.
The teenage Joan of Arc was captured by the English at the Siege of Compiegne in May 1430, tried for heresy and eventually executed by getting burned at the stake one year later.
Shortly before the krewe begins its walk, New Orleans City Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer will read a proclamation at the parade’s starting point at 6:45 p.m.
The parade continues three blocks later before making a right at Ursulines Street, then another right one block later at Decatur Street.
One half block later, the parade will pause briefly at the Joan of Arc statue to sing happy birthday before continuing down Decatur Street to Washington Artillery Park where there will be a crowning of the king of the krewe along a king cake ceremony.
Individuals are encouraged to bring their own king cakes to share with others in the parade.
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