Five Borough Bucket List

The New York City Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival

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p1608_orig.png I think I’ve written before how there are parades in New York City for everything. Well, today I learned that that is 100% true.

When you think of Easter celebrations, you probably think of church, chocolate, and Peeps. Well, New York (like always) takes it a step further. Enter the Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival.
p83.pngHold up, an Easter Parade? When I think of Easter, I think peeps (yuck), chocolate bunnies (must be hollow), and dyeing eggs. But, I was talking to my mom on the phone Saturday night, and we had the following conversation:

Mom: “Are you going to the Easter Parade?”
Me: “The what?”
Mom: “The Easter Parade! And the Bonnet Festival!”
Me: “I don’t know what that is.”
Mom: “It’s a whole thing! Get a bonnet and go check it out!”
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A quick Google search, and I realized she was right. It turns out, New York City has an Easter Parade, and it’s actually a huge part of the city’s history. The parade goes all the way back to the 1870s, and at one point it drew more than a million people! It used to be considered more of a high-society affair (Easter used to rival Christmas as the most popular New York City holiday), and sources say the city’s elite would show off their fashions in Central Park. Eventually, the parade moved to Fifth Avenue, where it is still held today. How popular was the Easter Parade? Irving Berlin wrote a song for the parade, which later became the basis for a movie of the same name.
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The Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival is nowhere near as popular nowadays (um, I guess that’s also evidenced by the fact that I had never heard of it), but it still draws in a large group of adults, children, and pets in the streets surrounding St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Think of it as less like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and more like the informal Coney Island Mermaid Parade and Greenwich Village Halloween Parade.
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The costumes are pretty wild – many parade goers try to capture the magic of the parade’s golden era, while others take a modern spin on it. Rockefeller Center really goes all out to create a beautiful (and Instagram-worthy!) spring atmosphere. I was seriously dragging my feet to go there (my procrastination knows no bounds), but I really had a lot of fun seeing everything and everyone! All of the bright colors and festive outfits were a nice reminder that Spring will (eventually) be here! I’ve only ever stopped into St. Patrick’s Cathedral once before, so it’s always nice to be able to check out this beautiful building.
p82.pngSince I didn’t actually participate in the dressing up aspect, I don’t consider the parade to be checked off my list. Still, I took a bunch of pictures and saw many cool sights in Rockefeller Center and around St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and I think it warrants a blog post so I (and you!) can be inspired to plan an outfit for next year. In the meantime, here are some of the sights from Easter in New York City this year:
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