The Force is with this Special Needs Mardi Gras Krewe.

December 7 2017

By Kate Lacour, Executive Director, NOLArts Learning Center

The much-anticipated release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi will have a special significance for the STOMP Troopers. This percussion-playing krewe performs in the sci-fi themed Chewbacchus parade, and is exclusively for kids and teens with autism and other special needs. Why the excitement around the movie release? Besides the obvious Star Wars affinity, the STOMP Troopers cause will benefit from a very unusual movie premiere party.

For his 14th birthday, Parrish Abramson has invited his guests to a private screening of the latest Star Wars blockbuster. The 8th grader is a Star Wars super-fan who recently waited three hours for a photo with Mark Hamill ("totally worth it!" he says). In lieu of gifts, Parrish has requested that guests donate to the STOMP Troopers.

What sort of 8th grader wants to give up his birthday gifts for charity? The same one who gave up his Bar Mitzvah gifts as a 6th grader to raise money for Save the Children. Parrish was inspired by the story of the STOMP Troopers, which connects young people with diverse abilities to the New Orleans cultural community through creative arts and parading. He invited the krewe to appear and perform at this birthday party wearing their signature handmade Storm Trooper costumes and doing a "Space Jam" drum improv.

"We love to see talented and unconventional young people like our krewe members being sought out rather than left out," said a STOMP Troopers organizer. "For that invite to be coming from a same-age peer, around a topic of shared interest – Star's exactly what inclusion is all about."

To learn more about the STOMP Troopers, click here.

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