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They loved her and she knows: Mardi Gras krewe honors Fisher

Associated Press logo Associated Press 12/31/2016 By REBECCA SANTANA, Associated Press
Members of the Krewe of Chewbacchus, a Mardi Gras Krewe, dressed as Princess Leia, use their smart phones at the start of a parade in honor of actress Carrie Fisher, who played Leia in the "Star Wars" movie series, in New Orleans, Friday, Dec. 30, 2016. Fisher died on Dec. 27, 2016, at the age of 60. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) © The Associated Press Members of the Krewe of Chewbacchus, a Mardi Gras Krewe, dressed as Princess Leia, use their smart phones at the start of a parade in honor of actress Carrie Fisher, who played Leia in the "Star Wars" movie series, in New Orleans, Friday, Dec. 30, 2016. Fisher died on Dec. 27, 2016, at the age of 60. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Their hair wrapped in side buns, wielding lightsabers and dressed as everything from Wookiees to stormtroopers, thousands of people turned out Friday to honor Carrie Fisher, the actress famous for her iconic role as Princess Leia in the "Star Wars" movies.

Addy Longlois, 7, dressed as Princess Leia, walks in a parade in honor of actress Carrie Fisher, who played Princess Leia in the "Star Wars" movie series, in New Orleans, Friday, Dec. 30, 2016. Fisher died on Dec. 27, 2016, at the age of 60. The parade was held by the Krewe of Chewbacchus, a "Star Wars" themed Mardi Gras Krewe. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) © The Associated Press Addy Longlois, 7, dressed as Princess Leia, walks in a parade in honor of actress Carrie Fisher, who played Princess Leia in the "Star Wars" movie series, in New Orleans, Friday, Dec. 30, 2016. Fisher died on Dec. 27, 2016, at the age of 60. The parade was held by the Krewe of Chewbacchus, a "Star Wars" themed Mardi Gras Krewe. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Fisher, whose tough-talking princess defied Empire generals while tossing off one-liners like "into the garbage chute, flyboy," died Tuesday.

Beckie Wasden, dressed as Princess Leia, takes a photo during a parade in honor of actress Carrie Fisher, who played Princess Leia in the "Star Wars" movie series, in New Orleans, Friday, Dec. 30, 2016. Fisher died on Dec. 27, 2016, at the age of 60. The parade was held by the Krewe of Chewbacchus, a "Star Wars" themed Mardi Gras Krewe. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) © The Associated Press Beckie Wasden, dressed as Princess Leia, takes a photo during a parade in honor of actress Carrie Fisher, who played Princess Leia in the "Star Wars" movie series, in New Orleans, Friday, Dec. 30, 2016. Fisher died on Dec. 27, 2016, at the age of 60. The parade was held by the Krewe of Chewbacchus, a "Star Wars" themed Mardi Gras Krewe. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

In New Orleans, where death is marked by both mourning and merriment, the Mardi Gras group called the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus organized a parade in honor of the woman they consider royalty.

Members of the Krewe of Chewbacchus, a Mardi Gras Krewe, hold a parade with members dressed as Princess Leia, in honor of actress Carrie Fisher, who played Leia in the "Star Wars" movie series, in New Orleans, Friday, Dec. 30, 2016. Fisher died on Dec. 27, 2016, at the age of 60. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) © The Associated Press Members of the Krewe of Chewbacchus, a Mardi Gras Krewe, hold a parade with members dressed as Princess Leia, in honor of actress Carrie Fisher, who played Leia in the "Star Wars" movie series, in New Orleans, Friday, Dec. 30, 2016. Fisher died on Dec. 27, 2016, at the age of 60. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

"This is a public demonstration of our love for Princess Leia," said Brooke Ethridge, one of the founders of the Leijorettes, a dancing group made up of fans who dress like Princess Leia. "Our first instinct was to hit the streets and parade and celebrate Princess Leia and Carrie Fisher."

Members of the Krewe of Chewbacchus, a Mardi Gras Krewe, hold a parade with members dressed as Princess Leia, in honor of actress Carrie Fisher, who played Leia in the "Star Wars" movie series, in New Orleans, Friday, Dec. 30, 2016. Fisher died on Dec. 27, 2016, at the age of 60. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) © The Associated Press Members of the Krewe of Chewbacchus, a Mardi Gras Krewe, hold a parade with members dressed as Princess Leia, in honor of actress Carrie Fisher, who played Leia in the "Star Wars" movie series, in New Orleans, Friday, Dec. 30, 2016. Fisher died on Dec. 27, 2016, at the age of 60. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Chewbacchus is dedicated to all things sci-fi and fantasy related and has always drawn inspiration from the "Star Wars" movies. The group's logo features the head of Chewbacca, the furry Wookiee who was Han Solo's close friend and co-pilot.

Members of the Krewe of Chewbacchus, a Mardi Gras Krewe, hold a parade with members dressed as Princess Leia, in honor of actress Carrie Fisher, who played Leia in the "Star Wars" movie series, in New Orleans, Friday, Dec. 30, 2016. Fisher died on Dec. 27, 2016, at the age of 60. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) © The Associated Press Members of the Krewe of Chewbacchus, a Mardi Gras Krewe, hold a parade with members dressed as Princess Leia, in honor of actress Carrie Fisher, who played Leia in the "Star Wars" movie series, in New Orleans, Friday, Dec. 30, 2016. Fisher died on Dec. 27, 2016, at the age of 60. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Fisher had been hospitalized since Dec. 23 after falling ill aboard a flight and being treated by paramedics at the Los Angeles airport. One day after Fisher's death, her actress mother, 84-year-old Debbie Reynolds, died as well. A joint funeral for the two women has been announced.

Laura Bell, dressed as Princess Leia from the original "Star Wars" movie, holds her daughter Luna Bell, dressed as Leia from "The Empire Strikes Back" movie, at the start of a parade in honor of actress Carrie Fisher, who played Leia in the "Star Wars" movie series, in New Orleans, Friday, Dec. 30, 2016. Fisher died on Dec. 27, 2016, at the age of 60. The parade was held by the Krewe of Chewbacchus, a "Star Wars" themed Mardi Gras Krewe. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) © The Associated Press Laura Bell, dressed as Princess Leia from the original "Star Wars" movie, holds her daughter Luna Bell, dressed as Leia from "The Empire Strikes Back" movie, at the start of a parade in honor of actress Carrie Fisher, who played Leia in the "Star Wars" movie series, in New Orleans, Friday, Dec. 30, 2016. Fisher died on Dec. 27, 2016, at the age of 60. The parade was held by the Krewe of Chewbacchus, a "Star Wars" themed Mardi Gras Krewe. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

The parade was led by the Leijorettes, followed by a brass band playing the "Star Wars" theme as hundreds of people — many in costume or carrying light sabers — walked behind them. Fans lined the road, taking photos.

Members of the Krewe of Chewbacchus, a Mardi Gras Krewe, hold a parade with members dressed as Princess Leia, in honor of actress Carrie Fisher, who played Leia in the "Star Wars" movie series, in New Orleans, Friday, Dec. 30, 2016. Fisher died on Dec. 27, 2016, at the age of 60. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) © The Associated Press Members of the Krewe of Chewbacchus, a Mardi Gras Krewe, hold a parade with members dressed as Princess Leia, in honor of actress Carrie Fisher, who played Leia in the "Star Wars" movie series, in New Orleans, Friday, Dec. 30, 2016. Fisher died on Dec. 27, 2016, at the age of 60. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

"I didn't know her. But as an iconic character and as a person, a writer and a smart funny fantastic woman and role model, I was heartbroken and devastated," Dale Hrebrik said.

Michell Niemeyer, dressed as Princess Leia, silhouetted as members of the Krewe of Chewbacchus, a Mardi Gras Krewe, hold a parade, in honor of actress Carrie Fisher, who played her role in the "Star Wars" movie series, in New Orleans, Friday, Dec. 30, 2016. Fisher died on Dec. 27, 2016, at the age of 60. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) © The Associated Press Michell Niemeyer, dressed as Princess Leia, silhouetted as members of the Krewe of Chewbacchus, a Mardi Gras Krewe, hold a parade, in honor of actress Carrie Fisher, who played her role in the "Star Wars" movie series, in New Orleans, Friday, Dec. 30, 2016. Fisher died on Dec. 27, 2016, at the age of 60. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

But even in a crowd where Fisher's Princess Leia role was front and center, many pointed out the contributions Fisher had made even after her "Star Wars" acting wound down. One marcher in the crowd held a sign calling Fisher, who spoke openly about her struggles with bipolar disease, a mental health advocate.

Jacquelyn Ryan came with her husband and two children. Her hair was wrapped in the two side buns Fisher wore in the first movie, but Ryan said she was more impressed with Fisher's other contributions.

"Probably my first introduction to her was 'Star Wars,' but she as a person was really important. Her activism, her mental health awareness, her activism for women, her unapologetic attitude about youth and beauty in Hollywood really spoke to me," Ryan said.

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Follow Rebecca Santana on Twitter @ruskygal.

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