January 30, 2008
Story and Photos by Walt Crowley (Phenix)

 

THE EMPIRE HAS SECURED MARDI GRAS
TD 5491 Reporting in from Patrol of Louisiana. The Bast Alpha Squad of the 501st Legion invade the Caesar parade for the second year in a row! It's the first weekend of the 2008 Mardi Gras season in New Orleans and Metarie Louisiana and the Bast Alpha Squad has grown to 29 members since last years parade and to a count of ten troopers. The theme of the Caesar Parade this year was Caesar's favorite movies. How better to show this then have the 501st Star Wars costume group roll with them again. This parade is more for the family oriented then what is widely known as the "Wild" Mardi Gras parades in New Orleans. We all joined up at our founder's house and suited up for what would be a long night. We arrived at the parade starting point and got our place in the parade line up which was 26 of 29 floats. It was a bit cold but most of us had extra under armor on so we were good to go. This year we had quite a line up of Star Wars characters from most movies along with some Expanded Universe characters.

Leading the pack would was none other then Darth Vader himself along with (3) Stormtroopers, (1) Sandtrooper (me), (1) Biker Scout, (2) Imperial Officers, (1) Snowtrooper, (1) Tie Pilot, (1) Rebel Fleet Trooper, (1) Padme, (1) Jawa, (3) Fetts, Boba Fett, New Orleans Saint's Fett, an EU Fett, and finally (1) EU Darth Revan. So in all we had sixteen troops. Most of us decided to walk the entire six mile route which went down a few of the main roads in Metarie and a few cuts down some side streets which took about 6-7 hours. This would be the first time I walked that long with my backpack on and I still had to hop on the float for a few breaks. A very long trek indeed, some of the troops passed out MG beads, special 501st MG beads that we had made for the parades and I had started something last year and that's where I took donations of star wars action figures and twist tied them to beads and hand those to kids only. Others had so much going on with their costumes that they couldn't see that well to untangle beads to throw.

A few highlights were when the crowd would start singing the Imperial March, and of course the kids and their shock and awe that was apparent on their faces, along with the big kids too. Finally we reached the end with only a few troopers getting armor malfunctions and blisters, and we drank water like a fish. But we all had smiles on our faces and knew we were a hit with the crowds that had to be in the thousands and couldn't wait to do the next parade the following weekend. We'll be bringing the actor that played Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) over for the Tucks Parade. He'll be riding the Children's Hospital float while we'll have a few members riding that float along with leading with our 501st float. Before the parade we'll be doing a special visit to the Children's Hospital for the kids that are too sick to join in the fun outdoors. I'll file another report on that event as soon as I can.

Until then, United We Find Troopers! TD 5491 out!

PHOTO GALLERY
To see the photo gallery containing 15 photos click here.