Color, Whimsy, and Politics at the New York Easter Parade

The annual New York City Easter Parade on 5th Avenue draws hundreds of attendees each year. Some come to see and others come to be seen, crafting whimsical hats and brightly colored get-ups for the occasion.

There was no shortage of costumes to be seen this year, as crowds of parade-goers gathered outside of St. Patrick’s Church on 5th Avenue, which was blocked off for the occasion, on an unseasonably warm Easter Sunday. Onlookers came from around the world, and many could be heard speaking in French, German, and Spanish, likely tourists taking advantage of the occasion to experience a holiday tradition that is uniquely New York City’s.

At this parade, creativity is king. Some participants showed off their do-it-yourself hat projects, often put together at home in the hours before the parade. Dave Condron, of the West Village, even had a scar on his finger from a hot glue gun injury he sustained while making his hat, which was adorned with miniature chicks and Easter eggs.

Condron comes to the parade every year with friends, but because many of them could not attend this year, he said he decided to go with a “more subtle” look: a seersucker suit with a bright pink top hat. Condron is a landscape architect, a job that he said plays in somewhat to his hat-making skills. He said a costume like this was easy to craft. “I can go anywhere with duct tape,” he said.

Some parade-goers traveled in groups, as was the case with The City Chicks, a group that gets dressed up for the occasion each year. Jodie Tripani designed each costume for The City Chicks this year, all featuring bold-colored floral hats in shades such as gold, bright pink, orange, and silver, and capes made of crepe imported from Greece.

The occasion prompted others to dress up, as was the case with Emily Boyd, of Hell’s Kitchen, and Hannah Schiff, of Crown Heights, who wore vintage dresses that they had bought especially for the parade. Schiff wore a blue dress printed with pink, yellow, and blue feathers, while Boyd wore a 1950s-era frock with bright blue, navy, pink, and yellow stripes. Their hats, a nod to 1950s-era glamour, completed their looks. “We’re both people who tend to wear vintage on a daily basis,” said Schiff. “Both of us were just kind of going for that Old Hollywood aesthetic, but through kind of an exploding Easter egg lens.”

As with most public events these days, politics came into play as well. Two of the most popular parade-goers came bearing the message “Resistance is Fabulous,” with a headdress depicting President Trump as a Russian soldier. Mari Gustafson and Nelson Caraballo, who are part of the organization Gays Against Guns, which seeks to mobilize the LGBTQ community for stronger gun legislation, thought this year called for such a message even though the Easter parade is not usually a political event. “Because he’s right up there,” said Gustafson, gesturing toward Trump Tower on 5th Avenue, “We want him to know that we’re here and we’re fabulous, damn it.”