NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The host of a History Channel program is throwing a party on Friday to celebrate what some call the Maya apocalypse.
Giorgio A. Tsoukalos, producer and host of the History Channel's "Ancient Aliens" program, plans to descend onstage at the peak of the party in a mock spaceship created by a Mardi Gras group. While he is a leading proponent of the idea that ancient myths arose from visits by alien astronauts, Tsoukalos scoffs at the idea that the world will come to an end Friday.
"The idea is that at midnight on Friday, we are creating such a spectacle that we are appeasing the space gods to spare us from our doom which the Mayans allegedly predicted," said Tsoukalos.
Tsoukalos' program explores theories, advanced in the 1960s by Swiss writer Erich von Daniken and others, that many myths of ancient civilizations worldwide — and some of their accomplishments, such as landmarks in the Americas and Egypt — may be linked to visits by aliens. Many mainstream researchers reject the theory, though it has found favor among unidentified flying object enthusiasts.
Tsoukalos says this party celebrates the turn of a Mayan calendar cycle that began 25,600 years ago.
"We do understand it's four days before Christmas. But this party's been in the making for 25,600 years. So what's your excuse not to attend?" he said.
It includes food trucks and bands on two stages at The Sugar Mill in the Warehouse District. The $50 tickets benefit the Peter Mayhew Foundation, created by the actor who played Chewbacca in the "Star Wars" movies to support children's hospitals, at-risk and special needs children and centers for injured veterans.
The headlining band, Ghostland Observatory, will play as the spaceship built by the Krewe of Chewbacchus descends, its ramp extends and Tsoukalos walks out, wearing a space suit of his own design. "It's the secret NASA files space suit," he said.
Ghostland Observatory's laser and light show includes 3-D animations projected into the air. "We've got aerialists there, we've got fire-throwers there, and acrobats — a whole bunch of different things. It'll be an all-around feast for not only the ears but also the eyes," Tsoukalos said.
He said he chose New Orleans in part because it's a great party town and partly for a more serious reason.
"This place has gone through an apocalypse and everyone here has come back from the dead," he said, referring to Hurricane Katrina. "What better place to show people that, even though you think the world has ended, it will continue."