Every Easter, New Yorkers of all types – spectators, artists, fashionistas, exhibitionists, and normal folk (and their dogs and children) – gather along Fifth Avenue in the Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival. The event itself is more of an entertainingly spirited gathering than a parade or festival, as there is no procession or organization. Instead, spring and Easter enthusiasts assemble to laugh, meet, and admire the ornate, elaborate, and sometimes outlandish headwear of strangers.
Even though this is our eighth year in New York City, this is our first attendance at this tradition dating back to the 1870s. We whipped up our costumes with less than 24 hours preparation. Kathy’s bonnet was a blue straw sunhat decorated every inch from base to crown with variable sizes and colors of crochet flowers made by her mom. Silas’ gear was a cowboy hat with a giant purple bow, yellow flowers circling the base, and a surprise Yale bulldog in the back with ribbons and flowers falling below him. We wore matching outfits of crisp white shirts, pink tie/scarf, black vests, and khaki slacks.
After attending church at the famous and newly restored Saint Patrick’s cathedral, we strolled up and down Fifth Avenue to admire the bright regalia of fellow New Yorkers. Many people opted for traditional Sunday best with tailored suits, manicured moustaches, and patent shoes. Some were fashion-forward with classy and chic high-fashion (albeit over-the-top) looks. Still there were the ultra-creative New Yorkers who wore wild, bizarre, and outrageous extravaganzas – not even hats or bonnets – on their heads!
Many people got a kick out of our coordinating outfits and especially out of Kathy’s bonnet because of the crochet flowers her mom made. They asked us about our hats, requested photos with us, and a couple even asked to borrow our hats for a photo opportunity as they did not have their own! What a surprise since we threw together our headwear on a whim (the purple bow was from a gift a long time ago, the bulldog was a bookmark from college, fake flower from Kathy’s old work, etc.).
What fun! The Easter Day Parade was an energetic, kid- and pet-friendly celebration and we thoroughly enjoyed seeing spring masterpieces and meeting their creative makers! Please see below for just a few of our photographs. Make sure to read the captions for some of our stories, descriptions, and observations! We hope that all of you had such a love- and fun-filled Easter as we did.
– Silas and Kathy May
View our gallery of selected photos: