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Along Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, the Easter Parade is a tradition that dates back more than 100 years. Conceived as a chance for wealthy New Yorkers to display their fine clothes after attending church services, it also was the subject of a 1948 film musical starring Judy Garland and Fred Astaire.

Along Buffalo's Elmwood Avenue, by contrast, the Easter Bonnet Parade is only in its third year.

Yet the creativity on display from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday along the Elmwood strip made one fact perfectly clear: The Queen City's mad hatters were in it to win it.

Inside the entryway of Unitarian Universalist Church, 695 Elmwood, Bill Janish stood tall. At age 68, he wore a hat that twinkled. The string of lights attached to its brim may have been battery-powered, but it was the sign on Janish's back that gave everyone a charge.

“Only 269 days until Christmas,” the sign read, “but tomorrow is Dyngus Day ... and April Fool's.”

Joining Janish was his wife, Pauline, their son and their 6-year-old grandson. It was the family's second appearance in the parade sponsored by the Elmwood Village Association.

“It's the expressions on the kids' faces that make it all worthwhile,” said Janish, who comes to Buffalo from his home in Clarence.

“Tomorrow, we're going for a Dyngus Day luncheon and some Polish music,” he said.

Candy store owner Joey Quigliano sat behind the registration table inside the church. Quigliano recently purchased Dandy Candy, one of the many businesses located along Elmwood.

“The bonnet parade is a tradition to get the community together,” said Quigliano, who wore a black top hat dotted with colored eggs. “We're pulling people of all ages together with the parade and egg hunt.”

An Easter egg hunt at the Lafayette Presbyterian Church at 875 Elmwood was the next stop for parade-goers. An awards ceremony at St. John's-Grace Episcopal Church, 51 Colonial Circle, capped the holiday event.

Carly Battin, executive director of the Elmwood Village Association since August, was also at the registration table. She was on hand to help judge the parade's bonnet contest. Gift baskets of candy, olive oil and other products donated by Elmwood Avenue merchants were given as prizes for bonnets in several categories, including best team, most spring-like, tallest, most creative and best dog.

Parade watchers – including Lynette Ackley and Rosanna Quigliano, Joey's mother – began lining the sidewalk at noon. Many were dressed as colorfully as those who marched in the parade.

April Whalen of Little Summer Street was accompanied by London, her 1-year-old golden retriever, and a gaggle of nieces and nephews from Tonawanda. Whalen wore a traditional Polish crown she purchased Friday at the Broadway Market. London appeared happy in a yellow daisy collar.

Husband Joel, she explained, was home cooking ham and sausage.

“We like to participate in anything,” said Whalen, who also takes part in the Garden Walk. “I like to bring my family here for the day and show them how great the city is and all the things to do here.”



email: jkwiatkowski@buffnews.com