If you want to see the creativity of New Yorkers, head to the Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival. At this informal procession (more like a meander) down Fifth Avenue, you’ll see a remarkable array of hand-crafted hats. It’s almost like Halloween, but it’s mainly limited to headwear. Although a few people do come in full costume, most are wearing either casual clothing, their Easter Best or something stylish in between. It’s actually much better than your typical Halloween, which is mostly store-bought costumes these days. It seems like the opportunity to focus on only one piece of attire, as opposed to a full outfit, yields better results.
This isn’t the kind of parade where you sit on the sidelines and watch or cheer. The bare-headed walk down the middle of the street, complimenting at gawking at the hats and asking to take photos. There are also entertainers and buskers; my son sat down and watched a surreal version of a one-man/puppet Humpty Dumpty show. Unfortunately, there were treet-dancer groups taking over entire blocks, which seemed contrary to the mood of the parade. I don’t remember this from the last time I was there (last blogged about it in 2009 but have been back since). My bet is that these groups were told to move along by New York’s Finest as the day wore on.
The parade takes place on Easter Sunday, from 10 AM-4 PM. Fifth Avenue is closed off from 49th—57th Streets. The tradition dates back to the 1870s, when women were showing off their Easter Bonnets after attending mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Check out these head-turning hats from the Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival in 2015 — you will feel inspired and more than a few will make you smile. Now start working on your own headgear for Easter 2016!