On Easter Sunday 1977, while humming the words to a classic Irving Berlin song, I pretended to be Judy Garland:
In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it,
You'll be the grandest lady in the Easter Parade.
I'll be all in clover and when they look you over,
I'll be the proudest fellow in the Easter Parade.
On the avenue, Fifth Avenue, the photographers will snap us,
And you'll find that you're in the rotogravure.
Oh, I could write a sonnet about your Easter bonnet,
And of the girl I'm taking to the Easter Parade.
There I was, in front of St. Patrick's Cathedral's in New York, attending—and photographing—my first Easter parade. Even though I wasn't brought up as Christian (I'm Jewish), I've always been interested in how other people celebrate their holidays. Adults and children (and even some pets) showed up wearing their best hats and bonnets. Many were walking in and out of the cathedral, while others looked like they had been partying since Mardi Gras.
I took their pictures, and now it's 40 years later. Looking back, it's easy to see that things change—that styles come and go, that traditions take new forms. But we're still one community, one people, one planet.
Meryl Meisler is an artist based in New York City. She is author of the internationally acclaimed photo books A Tale of Two Cities: Disco Era Bushwickand Purgatory & Paradise: SASSY 70s Suburbia & the City. Meisler is working on her third book in a trilogy about the 1970s.