I grew up with Easter being a “big deal”. At least half the day involved being inside a church with serious music, white lilies, and rather complex messages (scary for a kid) about life and death. I’ll always have a soft spot for the Easter season, but referring to the day and “celebratory” and “joyous” sometimes seemed a bit of a stretch. That is, until walking in New York’s Easter parade.
Understand, “parade” is a loose description, especially by New York standards. In fact, it’s quite understated for Manhattan. No floats, no instructions, no money exchanging hands, almost no vendors, not a politician or famous person in sight, and just one lone reporter (wearing a bonnet).
A better description might be a street “costume” party’: an informal gathering in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral following the 9.00 am mass; and then stretching 10 blocks north for those who want to walk (the street is actually corded off so you can safely walk along Fifth Avenue).
Those who gather include the truly well attired (dressed in finery I assume they own); those in costumes rented or created for the occasion, those in various hats they made out of feathers/flowers/eggs/you-name-it, and everyone else. It’s diverse by any standards. You’ve got the wealthy Manhattanites who actually belong there (in lovely clothes including bonnets with veils and top hats), individuals, families and couples of all varieties, assorted dressed-up dogs, and some who may not even realize that they are “dressed up”.
There’s great sense of fun and general good will. Everyone has a camera and no one hesitate to pose for a photo: people from infants to their nineties laughing, smiling, greeting, preening and posing; people who are strangers to one another taking an hour or so out of their lives without any reward except to make themselves, and others be happy they’re alive.
All in all, a lot of hope gathered together at a time when humanity sometimes seems off course — and if there’s anything buried in the complex messages of Easter that I remember, it’s hope.