If you are in New York on Easter Sunday (March 31, 2013), you will have the chance to see people decked out in Easter bonnets and dresses strolling along Fifth Avenue from 49th to 57th Streets. The NYC Easter Parade and the Easter Bonnet Festival start at 10:00 in the morning and ends around 4:00 in the afternoon. The New York Easter Parade is not as organized as some other festivals and parades in the city, and is a decidedly more casual event. The area that runs along Fifth Avenue from 49th Street to 57th Street is closed to vehicles during the parade. People put on hats, bonnets and Easter dresses, pets are in full costume, and others just come to watch the action. The area around St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the best place to get a good look at the parade. For anyone taking advantage of a New York Attractions Pass, stopping by the Easter Parade is an excellent way to spend a couple hours in between museum or park visits.
How did the Easter Parade start? From the end of the 1800’s to the 1950’s, the Easter Parade NYC was one of the most most famous ways that the United States celebrated Easter. In the mid-19th century, gothic churches such as St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church, Trinity Episcopal Church, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral began decorating their sanctuaries with flowers for the Easter season. Those who attended church took the queue, and began to dress elaborately for the holiday as well, donning beautiful dresses and gorgeous accessories. By the 1880’s, Easter had become a spectacle not just of religious observance, but also a display of fashion. People from the poorer classes would observe the Easter parade to find out the latest trends in style.
By 1890, the Easter parade had an official role on New York’s calendar of events. As the procession gained popularity, milliners, merchants, and advertisers began to take advantage of the marketing opportunity. In 1933, Irving Berlin wrote the music for a Broadway revue called As Thousands Cheer, with a song called “Easter Parade.” This song is believed to have captured the essence of the Easter parade at the height of its popularity.
Today, bonnets are taken to the extreme, some with live birds and huge bouquets of flowers. You may also see live rabbits, pet snakes, flowers, clowns, and more. Only New Yorkers know how to go to certain fashion extremes and pull them off, so one thing is certain: you will definitely be entertained.