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NYC Easter: Costume spectacle meets elegant tradition

Posted April 16

— Fifth Avenue came alive on Easter Sunday with outlandish costumes mingling with elegant bonnets fit for St. Patrick's Cathedral and nearby churches.

The secular spectacle was a takeoff on a New York tradition from the 1800s, when the city's elite paraded their Sunday best to mark the holiday. New York's Easter parade is now an outdoor free-for-all of participants and spectators from around the world.

One faithful Christian mixed formality with pushing-the-envelope style: Cynthia Gable, of Easton, Connecticut, attended Mass wearing a shocking pink suit and a hat exploding with matching-colored feathers, while her husband, Scott Doerr, wore a black top hat.

"I think it's exciting," her demurely clad mother, Florence Gable, said of New York's unusual annual rite celebrating Christians' belief in the resurrection of Christ.

Weeks were spent making costumes, with some even adorning their pets.

Jodie Trapani calls her hat-designing group City Chicks, whom she's brought to the Easter extravaganza for the 29th year.

"This is more of a promenade that has evolved over the years," said Trapani. "Some of my hats are crazy whimsical."

Her headpiece burst from her head in an array of wild field blossoms and leaves.

It took "Purely" Patricia Fox — as the Manhattan woman calls herself — 20 hours to fashion her bonnet.

"I sneezed and then it blew up into this amazing piece," she joked, describing the huge cascade of spring flowers flowing from her head to her shoulders.

The core religious event remained Mass at St. Patrick's with Cardinal Timothy Dolan as the celebrant. In a somber reminder of the turbulent times, he appeared outside the cathedral in white vestments, surrounded by black-clad machinegun-toting members of the police anti-terrorism squad.

The prelate who leads New York's more than 2 million Roman Catholics said that on this day, "We prayed specifically for those who literally risked their lives to worship this morning in certain parts of the world where there's persecution and attacks on people of all faiths."

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Associated Press radio correspondent Julie Walker contributed to this story.

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