In a stylish scene from the golden age of Hollywood, Judy Garland walks arm in arm with Fred Astaire to the tune of “Easter Parade.” He wears a top hat. Pink flowers adorn her wide-brimmed bonnet.
Cut to Snohomish. Rather than an elegant New York crowd “on the avenue, Fifth Avenue,” as the Irving Berlin song croons, a bonnet-wearing bunch will roll down First Street in a farm wagon Saturday.
The wagon from Swans Trail Farm will double as a float in the 37th annual Snohomish Easter Parade. Scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday along First Street in the historic downtown, the parade will be followed by an Easter bonnet contest at the Snohomish Historical Society’s Waltz Building.
“It’s a spring thing,” said Pam Osborne, manager of the Snohomish Chamber of Commerce. Since 1980, the local chamber has organized the parade, which is also sponsored by Community Transit. “We are seeing people who were little kids when they first came to the parade. Now they’ve got their own kids. Parents who brought their kids now bring their grandkids,” she said.
Although the grand New York tradition of parading up Fifth Avenue near St. Patrick’s Cathedral continues, Osborne said the Snohomish parade is one of a very few in these parts. She believes it may be the only Easter parade in Washington. “There is one in Oregon,” she said.
About those bonnets, the Snohomish contest isn’t limited to women in spring finery. It’s open to all — men and women, kids, babies, even pets.
“We’ve had a cow in a bonnet, llamas and, of course, dogs and cats,” Osborne said.
Boys, too, get in on the fun. “We have lots of guys, young gentlemen. If their sister has a bonnet, they want to be included,” she said. Osborne has seen hats done up with a Lego theme, or with trains on top.
A Snohomish church, Midnight Cry Community Fellowship, is the bonnet contest sponsor. The church is helping provide prizes, which Osborne said will include Easter candy bags. Recent years have seen more than 100 bonnets.
About 60 entries are expected in the parade, which has drawn as many as 3,000 spectators. Participants include Snohomish High School’s marching band, the Sauerkraut Band, dump trucks decked out with bunny ears, vintage tractors and local law enforcement.
Osborne hopes for a sunny Saturday. “We like to think it never rains on our parade, but that’s not exactly true,” she said.
At 67, she remembers a time when Easter hats were the norm, not the vintage millinery of parades or whimsical bonnet contests. When she and I were growing up, girls not only wore bonnets to church, we also put on our white gloves.
“My mother made us all Easter outfits,” said Osborne, who was 12 when her family moved from Monroe to Snohomish. She had two sisters. “The oldest and youngest had matching outfits, and my middle sister got to be different,” Osborne recalled. “We wore hats, of course, and you wore white gloves and patent leather shoes.”
Growing up in Spokane, my sister and I wore straw hats with ribbon streamers on Easter, and what we called our “party shoes.” You could only wear those shoes to church or birthday parties, not to school — which called for sturdy saddle shoes.
Like those 1960s outfits, an Easter parade is a bit of an anachronism. That’s fine with Osborne, who said the old-fashioned custom fits Snohomish. “We’re stubborn about our traditions, we really are,” she said.
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Snohomish Easter Parade is scheduled for 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday along First Street downtown. An Easter bonnet contest will immediately follow the parade at the Snohomish Historical Society’s Waltz Building, 116 Avenue B. The bonnet contest is open to all, and pets in bonnets are welcome. Those in bonnets may ride in the parade on the Snohomish Chamber of Commerce float, as space allows. Board the float by 10:45 a.m. at First Street and Cedar Avenue; parents may ride or meet kids at end of the parade at First Street and Avenue E.