NYC’s Easter Bonnet Parade 2017

I know I recently wrote about a parade (the Tartan Day Parade, which you can find here), but a few weeks ago New York City was host to one of my favorite parades: the Easter Bonnet Parade! I’m a little behind getting the blog post up about it (blame the hectic last few weeks of the semester at the law school!), but I couldn’t resist sharing my photos from this year’s parade.

New York City’s Easter Bonnet Parade is a long-standing tradition, tracing its roots back to the 1870s. There are several historic churches along Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, including St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and the wealthier residents of the city would dress in their best Easter finery, including elaborate hats, to go to church that morning. After church, people would parade up and down Fifth Avenue showing off their beautiful clothing as poorer residents gathered to observe. For many years, the parade was a major highlight of the spring, something that attracted huge crowds – in fact, by the mid-20th century, as many as 1 million people attended the event! Irving Berlin even wrote a song about the parade, which eventually became the title song for the 1948 movie Easter Parade, starring Fred Astaire and Judy Garland.

Today, the crowds are much smaller, but it is still a great event for everyone involved. One of the reasons why the Easter Bonnet Parade is so much fun is that it is interactive. Rather than watching from the sidelines, those coming to watch the parade wander up and down the streets with the parade participants. There are no barricades (aside from those stopping automobile traffic), and really no rules. People wander up and down the street however they want, stopping to pose for and take photos of each other.

Some people stay true to the original approach, either wearing vintage-style clothing and hats or what you would normally expect to see people wear if dressing up for church. Others make their own headwear (often with corresponding costumes), ranging from the tacky to festive to high fashion. Sometimes a group of friends or family members create outfits that follow a common theme; other times you will see a person and their dog attired similarly. Everywhere you look you will see something different. The one thing that’s guaranteed: you will have fun!

Now that I’ve written at length about the parade, how about some photos? I hope you enjoy!

These first two women carried out the vintage theme in style.

These two were beautiful – although only the older one was wearing a hat.

This next one catches the spirit of the event – the woman in the middle wanted a photo with the two dressed-up men!

Here’s a family that took do-it-yourself to a new level – aren’t they great?

This man brought his own frame to the parade – and he would pose with you in it if you wanted to.

The woman on the right coordinated her outfit with her well-trained dog, and they were in high demand for photos. The stylish couple on the left were excited to have their photos taken with them.

Then there’s the wacky – but oh so much fun!

It was a very warm day, and I have to believe the guy in the bunny sweater suit was hot. But he still was enjoying himself though! The man on the right had fashioned his own hat out of an old-school Easter basket, turned upside down to become the base for a homemade birdcage.

This one is just sweet.

As you can tell from the photo below, the next one was in high demand from photographers – it almost looks like she is being chased by the paparazzi!

Yes, the man on the left has St. Patrick’s Cathedral on his head.

I’m not sure what you would call the next one, but he was sure accessorized!

The next couple was dancing in the street – one time it’s ok to stop traffic!

This guy had the right idea. The sun was bright, and a parasol would be handy.

This man was one of many people running around with large flower arrangements on their heads. He must have worked hard to make sure it matched his bright pink suit.

All I’ll say about the next one – some people really threw themselves into the spirit of things.

I’ll leave you with one last photo, this one of a young girl dressed in the more traditional Easter Parade attire.

Enjoy this so much that you want to see some pictures from last year’s parade? I wrote about it here.

Subway Station Art – 23rd Street Station

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At first glance, the public art at the 23rd Street Station seems a little unusual. You may fly by on the subway, noticing a series of small hats scattered along the walls of the station platform. But the mosaics at this station are worth a second glance. In fact, I encourage you to get off the train and wander along the platform, looking more closely at each of the hats. The art at this station is called “Memories of 23rd Street,” and the artist is Keith Godard. As you explore the station further, you will discover that each hat is associated with a famous person who lived in the Flatiron District of Manhattan, the neighborhood located above ground from the station.

Here are some of my favorite hats, either because of their design or the people they were associated with. There are many more hats to explore when you visit though! Each hat has identifying information located below it near the bottom of the wall.

This one was really interesting – it’s associated with actress Sarah Bernhardt.

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And this one’s physicist Marie Curie’s.

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There’s this hat belonging to Harriot Blatch, a famous American suffragist and daughter of suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

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And this one belonging to Eleanor Roosevelt. I love that she is identified as a humanitarian, rather than just being identified as first lady or President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s wife.

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The feathers on actress Lillie Langtry’s hat are pretty spectacular.

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And this is stunt person and journalist Nellie Bly’s hat.

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Here is famous artist Winslow Homer’s hat:

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This hat belonged to former fire commissioner, Robert Adamson.

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Here’s one for Samuel Gompers, the famous labor leader.

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And here’s a top hat for Phineas T. Barnum, museum owner and circus entrepreneur.

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This is an old fashioned policeman’s hat, belonging to Jake Harnett.

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And novelist Henry James’s rather crumpled looking hat.

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If you want to visit the station yourself, take the N, R (except late night), or Q (only late night) to 23rd Street. A note of caution – other lines (1, 4, 6,  C, and E) also have 23rd Street stations, but those stations are not the same one.