What’s a must do in Philly over the Easter long weekend when you have guests in town?! With the Rocky Steps closed for the NFL Draft, and we’ve already waited an hour for a cheesesteak at Carmen’s, what do we do Easter Sunday?
The Head House Square 86th Annual Easter Promenade.
Although it’s been around for years, this is our first and we have no idea what to expect. We were seeing posters up everywhere, and decided this would be our Sunday plan. There’s a bonnet contest, a promenade that runs a few blocks, an egg hunt, and photos with Mr and Mrs Rabbit. Sounds like a perfectly festive way to spend the afternoon.
With the Promenade starting at 12:30pm, I hurry us out the door for 12:21pm. Prim has her pink Easter flower on, and we’re decked out in our pastels. When we get over to South Street, the sun is beaming down, yet the spectator crowds are thin. This is kind of like a parade isn’t it? Then, I can hear the Bunny Hop song. I can see people coming down the closed street. A man with an enormous impressive bonnet appears from around a corner, decked out in the entire Easter Egg Hunt struts down the street. He is accompanied by the mayor, a community band, and 5 odd rabbits; all in all, this formal part last’s about 2 minutes. Behind the rabbits are hundreds and hundreds of bunny-eared people promenading down the street.
As this is our first Promenade, we aren’t too sure what to do. With a shrug, we leave the comfort of our curbside view, and join in.
My pink and purple clothes are quickly lost in bonnets, flora, and more bonnets. Some people really are taking it serious. Serious meaning, wearing a huge flower on one’s head. We are amongst THE Easter Sunday Best.
It turns out the Promenade finishes a few blocks later, yet the formalities really just begin. After brief remarks, and a few random performances, the Easter festivities move to a series of intense (possibly cut throat) competitions… beginning with best dressed girls, aged 2-5. Oh, I saw you eyeing the competition little 3 year old girl with the gigantic flower in your hair. Clearly we are out of our league. In my head, we’re planning for next year. A beautiful bonnet for Derrick, a floral dress for Prim. But what’s razzle dazzle look like?! This is followed by:
Best Dressed Little Boy (2-5 years)
Best Dressed Young Girl (6-12 years)
Best Dressed Young Boy (6-12 years)
Best Dressed Teen Girl (13-19 years)
Best Dressed Teen Boy (13-19 years)
Best Dressed Woman (20+ years)
Best Dressed Man (20+ years)
Best Dressed Family
Best Dressed Pet
Best Easter Bonnet
Best South Street Razzle Dazzle
The sun is incredible, which in turn, has us heading for shade shortly into the competitions. Well, not before we walk through the kids egg hunt area and find a few for ourselves (jokes! We put them all back! Really!)
Today was surprisingly lovely. What gets me the most about this all is the happy light feeling in the crowd. Strangers talk to us like old friends. The MC can’t decide which side of the stage the contestants are supposed to enter from. Rabbits are everywhere posing for photos with their fans. No fireworks, no big show. Just community coming together. We all seem to have a little more bounce in our steps. Reflecting, I am grateful for being introduced to this odd, little Easter tradition. It is one of those perfectly messy events that reminded me so much of the childhood parades and community events that I grew up with. Although we didn’t go back to Canada for the holiday weekend, it felt like a bit of home was here in this promenade. Family, community, chocolate, and taking the silly things a little too seriously. America, and the world, could use more days like this.
See you next year for the 87th Promenade! And don’t forget to bring your game, and bring your bonnet!
Interested in learning more about how the Eater Promenade was dying yet was (holiday-appropriately) resurrected in the 70’s, and how it grew into the gem it is today? Click here!
Song of the Day: The Bunny Hop (a random awkward video I came across)