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April 17, 2014

Topping off Easter

Locals hope to start tradition with Newburyport hat parade

This Easter, donning your Sunday best could earn you a prize.

A group of local women is hoping to bring a New York City tradition to Newburyport’s Inn Street with the first Easter Hat Parade.

Stretching back to the 1870s, the annual Easter Parade and Easter Bonnet Festival in New York now draws thousands of participants from around the world to Fifth Avenue to show off hats ranging from simple to outrageous.

Robin Lawson, co-chairwoman of the Newburyport parade, attended the New York event last year with her husband, Lynn Kettleson. The Newbury couple had a great time and thought that Newburyport would be a great place to start a similar tradition.

“This was the most fun, colorful, creative event you could imagine,” Lawson said, recalling hats that ranged from depictions of the New York City skyline to one covered with marshmallow Peeps candy to landmark replicas made entirely from MetroCards.

Lawson recruited friend Pat Skibbee of West Newbury to co-chair the event with her, and they put together a committee with Newburyport residents Cynthia Quinn and Sharon Currier and Ann Simpson of Amesbury.

“It’s such a perfect event for Newburyport,” Lawson said. “It’s just silly and fun.”

“This is a way that people can physically come out and gather together and celebrate spring,” Skibbee said. “It’s a celebration of Easter. Everyone is invited and welcome.”

Although it is called a parade, the event is more of a gathering, with participants invited to show off their hats and mingle among the crowd. There is no marching involved, something that confused Lawson at first when she was in New York City.

She remembers turning to Kettleson and asking him, “Where’s the parade?”

“He said, ‘Dear, you are the parade,’” she said with a laugh.

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