Easter bonnets come out to celebrate at Tompkins Square Park

It doesn’t get much more colorful than this.
It doesn’t get much more colorful than this.
Photo by Bob Krasner

This is definitely not your grandmother’s Easter parade. Sometime in the late 1800’s, churchgoers in their finest Easter bonnets lingered on Fifth Ave. outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral, enjoying a mutual display of sartorial elegance.

As the years went by it became it became so popular that it was necessary to close off a number of blocks to traffic so that the huge crowds had space to mingle. In recent years, tens of thousands have filled the blocks between 49th and 57th streets as the bonnets – and everything else – got more creative and more outrageous, rivaling Halloween for spectacle. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, the parade was officially off – which was the cue for Christopher Hardwick and Abby Ehmann to kick into gear.

As they did for last summer’s “Renegade Mermaid Parade”, the pair planned a substitute event – the Easter Bonnet Promenade – in Tompkins Square Park to fill the void. Artistic friends showed up in all manner of dress and while we think it’s unlikely that many of them came directly from church, it’s really not about that anyhow.

Paul Nagle enjoyed a smooth takeoff on the runway.Photo by Bob Krasner
Eeva Doherty paid tribute to a favorite treat – Peeps – but has no interest in the new Peeps flavored Pepsi.Photo by Bob Krasner
All over but the chatting: Michelle Joni gabs with Christopher Hardwick.Photo by Bob Krasner
Kate Peila brightening up the park.Photo by Bob Krasner
Photo by Bob Krasner

Carl Saytor, whose wife wore a very impressive bonnet containing live grass, saw it as a celebration of renewal. “The beginning of spring is so much more important this year as we crawl out of our caves,” he mused. ” It’s a double rebirth – we are re-experiencing life and each other.”

Members of the Kostume Kult handed out cupcakes and matzah ball soup, while “Giorgio the Matzah Guy” dispersed unleavened bread ( in other words, matzah ), acknowledging the overlap of Passover. Sydney Oolango, whose fabulous headpiece was an undulating inflatable tube, brought the runway that everyone was welcome to traverse.

Music was provided by DJ Flo Pilot atop Glinda the Good Bus, with performances by Michelle Joni and Lucy Hall. “Thank god Glinda was available ! ” exclaims Hardwick. “Without her it would have been someone playing music through a little bluetooth speaker.”

Hardwick was pleased with the afternoon, also looking at it as a new beginning. “Our goal,” he explained, ” was to create happiness and joy while climbing slowly out of the pandemic.”

Look for similar upcoming events at m.facebook.com/groups/12236147106?group_view_

Sydney Oolango walked the runway – in slow motion – while his bonnet went through some ups and downs.Photo by Bob Krasner
“Giorgio the Matzah Guy” holding pieces of matzah on the runway. He later gave out pieces to anyone who was in the mood for some.Photo by Bob Krasner
Lucy Hall put her best foot forwad as Michelle Joni performed atop Glinda The Good Bus.Photo by Bob Krasner
Jill and Ryan strolling in the park.Photo by Bob Krasner
Photo by Bob Krasner
Jay W. Walker led the members of Sing Out Louise ! in a program of satirical protest songs.Photo by Bob Krasner
Marz Katz in her blooming bonnet.Photo by Bob Krasner
Kent Curtis Weakley knows how to accessorize.Photo by Bob Krasner
Photo by Bob Krasner
Christopher Hardwick, event organizer, wasn’t hoping for a huge crowd.Photo by Bob Krasner
Performance artist Amy Shapiro was the only one with a bonnet made of actual living grass.Photo by Bob Krasner
Event organizer Abby Ehmann , owner of the bar Lucky , celebrating Spring.Photo by Bob Krasner