Since as far back as 1870s, New Yorkers (and visitors from all over the world) have used the arrival of Easter Sunday as an excellent excuse to stroll along Fifth Avenue in their frippery and finery. Which these days means pretty much anything you can imagine, the more outlandish the better, with bonnets and outfits often more elaborate than what you see on Halloween.
The tradition continued this weekend with a huge turnout along Fifth Avenue from 57th to 49th Streets, with much of action centered on the steps of St. Patrick's Cathedral. The Easter Parade is more like a massive block party than actual parade, as thousands of participants and spectators amble and mingle on a blessedly car-free stretch of Fifth Avenue.
(Scott Lynch / Gothamist)
The lack of barriers dividing participants from spectators makes the parade, now also known as the "Bonnet Festival," one of the loosest of all the city's big annual spectacles. It also means the street does get packed in front of old St. Pat's. The NYPD stepped up their presence this year, too, installing massive truck barricades at either end of the party and posting some heavily armed officers in plain sight.
While most of the bonnets functioned simply as celebrations of glorious spring (flowers and butterflies, bunnies and peeps), pop-cultural themes and politics made their way into many of the outfits as well. All of which you can see by clicking through the gallery above.