Hat’s off to New York City's Easter Parade 2018 in 90 Glorious Hats!


“We thought about it all the year and this year we decided Dessert was the thing. Believe it or not it's mostly hairspray.” For many, wearing wacky and creative hats on the Easter Parade has been part of the long flourishing tradition on Easter in the New York City

“We have got a little wind and I am the pirate. This is my 6th year,” says another creative hat wearer. 

“I have always loved butterflies, I don’t know what about them that intrigues me, but I have always loved them and now they are on our Bamboo hats! The project took us about a month”, says another hatilicious diva. 

“All of this is handmade and not as heavy, if it wasn’t so, I wouldn’t be wearing it throughout the day”, says another. 

“We like to put things on our heads that don’t belong on our heads. The spider was an unusual choice”. When I asked them if that was heavy, quick came the reply “It's not very heavy, it's an upside down Quaker oatmeal jar with an inside of wood drilled and the coat hangers attached, it took us 5 hours to make this stuff but this isn’t our first time. We have been doing it for past 8 years and each year we come up with wacky ideas - once we were wearing an island of Maui on our heads, another year bolted frying pan that weighed a ton!”, says the creator of Spider hat. 

After I met Mr. Peacock hat and Mrs. Peahen hat, I was convinced all the elements of Spring found its home in the adornment of our heads this Easter. And why not?

Eggs and Bunnies: Symbolic of new life and how?

In many countries and cultures, Spring celebration is widely known. “Let go of the long winter and get peppy in the Spring extravaganza”. Eggs were symbolic of rebirth and new life, making them apt for the celebration of spring and new life that comes after winter. The symbol of rebirth fit well with Spring of Easter as it is a celebration of Jesus Christ’s resurrection. It was hence common for eggs to be decorated and given as gifts to family and friends. And so, we also saw many egg hats in the parade. The story of the Easter Bunny is thought to have become common in the 19th Century. Rabbits usually give birth to a big litter of babies (called kittens), so they also became a symbol of new life. And there were many bunnies in the parade as well. The Easter bunny is also a folkloric figure and according to German Lutherans, the hare played the role of a judge evaluating whether children were good or disobedient in behavior at the start of the season. In the legend, the bunny carries colored Easter eggs, his basket, candy and sometimes toys to the homes of children.

The Easter Parade is not a walking parade it is more like a Bonnet festival. It is mainly extravagant Bonnet displays by paraders in front of the St. Patricks Cathedral at the 5th Ave. Visitors and Tourists can also be part of the gathering and if one has got a creative Bonnet, it's easy to garner attention from onlookers. Most of them were kind and sweet enough to pose for a selfie with you! It was my first time at this unusual parade of its kind and I thought, let’s deck up and create some hat for myself :) .

Easter Parade in New York: How it started?

Now I always wondered how did the Easter Parade of hats come about in New York. Easter parades often including a special dress have been part of the Christian Culture since its earliest beginnings. The bible records two processions in the first Holy Week. Having new clothes for Easter has deep roots in European customers and as an old Irish adage stated, “For Christmas, food, and drink; for Easter, new Clothes. There are many superstitions surrounding the Easter “Unless a person has new homespun clothes in Easter, moths, and crickets eat the old goods and destructive rooks would nest in large numbers at home. If some part of one’s outfit is not new, one will not enjoy good luck during the year”.

Some say the first Easter parade in New York, the USA was after the Civil war when people had been dressed in black mourning the war but that year they wanted to really come about in bright clothes and Easter hat to celebrate the revival of the new breeze of life after the war got over.

From the 1880’s through the 1950’s, New York's Easter parade was one of the main cultural expressions of Easter in the United States. The idea of the parade came about from New York's highly ornamented churches—Gothic buildings such as Trinity Episcopal Church, St. Patrick's Cathedral, and St. Thomas' Episcopal Church when in the mid 19th century, these churches began decorating their sanctuaries with Easter Flowers. As the flowers grew more elaborate, they were received and incorporated into values of the dresses people wore at the Churches.

By the 1880 ’s, the Easter parade became a spectacle of fashion and religious observance. It was an after church cultural event to do. By the mid-20th century, the parade's religious aspects had faded, and it was mostly seen as a demonstration of American prosperity. Today, New York's Easter parade is enjoyed both by families in Sunday best and people and pets in outlandish costumes, often paying homage to the parade's former glory by, to cite a typical example, wearing garish hats with live birds in flower-adorned cages.

An Easter bonnet is any new or fancy hat worn as a Christian headcovering on Easter, by tradition.

It’s interesting how everything connects so well. New York city actually ended down at 23rd Street in the mid 19th century. From the 1880’s to the 1920’s, 23rd street was a major hub of entertainment, cultural district and fashion haven of the time. Now, when you see inside the subway station of 23rd street, you would find an art installation called Memories of Twenty-Third Street (120 of them - 60 on either side of tracks) that pays homage to the famous men and women who a century ago frequented the area. Cherish the mosaic hats of those times at the station! This one is of Marie Curie, the famous scientist.

Not only did we spot many cute Chihuahuas dogs in the festive set, the display of creative hats by Paraders in the festival was glorious. Rockefeller Center also had the Egg hunt game and we spotted the bunny skating with kids.

An egg hunt is a game during which decorated eggs or Easter eggs are hidden for children to find.

After we have got winters that has stayed for far too long, the celebration of Easter hats was a colorful respite in the festival which is one of its own kind.

Here’s my photo-essay from the Easter Parade 2018:


  1. Hi ankita
    i have never been seen much hats in my life. i read your blog and after read the blog, i got much info about the hats.
    so thanks.

  2. Amazing Hat, Thanks for sharing this wonderful moments with. really a great journey that you have lived in old days. 3 nights 4 days golden triangle tour 

  3. OMG, I cannot believe I missed this! I absolutely LOVE designing hates, and of course' I've heard about the Easter Parade, but I had no idea it was so fabulous. Because of your post, I will never ever ever miss it again! Thank you so much for this article. (kicking myself) Perhaps we can collaborate on an article for the Coney Island Mermaid Parade (and make mermaid outfits and hats of course...?) Come with me!

  4. Wow! Nice event you had really I didn't see these kind of color full hats in my life. By reading this I felt that New York is the best city to celebrate Easter day. Thanks for posting!


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