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Fifth Avenue Easter Parade is a New York happening

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"The photographers will snap us," the line in Irving Berlin's 1933 song, "Easter Parade," really captures the spirit of the annual Easter Parade on New York's Fifth Avenue.

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But "Anything Goes," could be another anthem for this annual happening with the uniquely New York stamp.

What began fairly spontaneously in the 1870s, as the society elites emerged from Fifth Avenue's famous churches - St Patrick's and St Thomas', to show off finery and see and be seen has become a New York "happening" - a true spectacle.

And it's not so much a parade, as an opportunity to stroll up and down the avenue. That much is the same.

Here, the fashion ranges from the swank to the zany, from traditionalists to costumes out of this world, from the sedate to over-the-top headwear Ziegfeld would have used in his Follies.

While once the Easter Parade was all about the hat, it is increasingly about the ensemble, or the total costume.

Like the famous Greenwich Village Halloween Parade, New Yorkers use the opportunity to dress up to show off their creativity or send a message or just show off.

The parade attracts people from all over the country and the world, there is a melange of languages, but everyone seems right at home.

This is a parade like no other - totally unorganized (people do not even walk in the same direction), no floats or banners or marching bands. People just stroll up or down the Avenue, as the song goes.

And oh, the fashion statements!

Traditionalists in formal attire, men in top hats and morning coats with ladies on their arm carrying parasols and wearing pastel colored dresses, stroll along with the wacky and the zany, making their personal fashion - if not societal - statement.

People flock to pose with those in the most interesting, outrageous, high or low fashion statements and soon, a scrum of photographers crowd in to capture the image.

It's where the establishment shares the street with the anti-establishment and everyone has a very good laugh. The sophisticates hobnob with the hoi polloi.

Fifth Avenue is one long joyful smile.

And how could you not, on a picture perfect day. Is there anything more beautiful than New York in spring? The blossoms on the trees at the fountain in front of the Plaza, Central Park taking on its pastel greens and pinks.

Churches along the avenue - the most famous being St Patrick's Cathedral and St Thomas' Church - hold services through the day.

Inside St Patrick's was standing room only and no one minded the scaffolding for the church's restoration.

"This yearly recollection of death of Jesus brings us back to reality to use the time we have," the priest says in his message. "Easter reminds us to turn our lives around."

The serious tone inside contrasted with the joyful noise outside.

The tolling church bells compete with the music and noise from the street.

There are also an assortment of street performers - from break dancers to animal balloon makers to magicians.

A scrum quickly gathers around the odd, the interesting, the cute, the nostalgic.

A few tips of the hat to bygone years: three men in top hat and morning coats with flowers in their lapels said they were on their way to the Harvard Club.

Fashion is on display - even fashion with a social message, as a costume of all recycled materials showed and nature, Mother Earth, and the renewal of life is the central theme, with flowers, feathers, and of course eggs used in hat wear, as necklaces, as jewelry.

Pet fashion too, as we encounter the world-famous pet couturier, Anthony Rubio, who won Designer of the Year at the 2014 New York Pet Fashion Show at Westminster, with Mrs Bella Mia, a famous dog model.

He wasn't the only personality - we met Abraham Lincoln, or rather Lewis Dube, a prominent Abraham Lincoln impersonator who has performed at three Presidential Libraries, with Mary Todd Lincoln (Eileen Baird of Meridien Ct.).

We meet people who came from Berlin, from Dublin, from Toronto - friends and families that reunite here.

A day for the young and young and heart, and renewal of the world, and an expression of joy.

See also:

Faberge sponsors The Big Egg Hunt New York at Rockefeller Center through Apr 25 and photos

Karen Rubin, National Eclectic Travel Examiner

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