Tradition is one of those things I found stifling when I was younger, something I desperately needed to break free of. Being of mixed race meant having two sets of rules to adhere to. It meant being saddled by two laborious sets of obligations. I couldn’t wait until I didn’t have to be somewhere I didn’t want to be–I was young and had way cooler things to do, after all. (Cue the eye roll here.) But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve developed a renewed understanding and appreciation for it. Community becomes less about conforming and more about belonging.
You could spend every weekend doing something completely different in New York City and never run out of things to do. But there are certain events that hit can’t-miss status for us. Activities that are permanently etched into our calendars. Occasions that take precedence over anything else going on in the city that day. The Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade is one of those special cases.
Throngs of visitors come to New York City every year to watch the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It’s such a popular event that hotel rooms along the route have the equivalent of “surge pricing” and still manage to sell out way in advance. That kind of fervor can only mean one thing: New Yorkers will stay very, very far away from it.
When people find out how long Justin and I have been married, many of them inevitably ask if we have kids. We do not. I don’t bemoan that circumstance except for once a year: at Halloween. Because of this. I mean, come on.
“I don’t think there is a life in the mundane 9-to-5 hypocrisy. That’s not living. That’s just part of the Matrix. And drag is punk rock, because it is not part of the Matrix. It is not following any rules of societal standards. Boy, girl, black, white, Catholic, Jew, Muslim. It’s none of that. We shape-shift. We can do whatever we want.” – RuPaul
While we’d like to encourage you to be happy with who you are, we’d also like to embolden you to be anyone you want to be. That may involve introspection and ambition, or it may simply involve putting on a costume when the occasion allows it. There’s a boldness to the business of getting dressed up and standing in the spotlight. Some New Yorkers get up and do it every day, while others wait for an instance like the Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival to get their shape-shift on.
At the Parade and Festival on Sunday, some outfits were literal (think Easter baskets, eggs and rabbits), while others were more abstract (matching stripes and polka dots with paper umbrellas and pointy hats — still thinking on that one). Some were simple (colorful chapeaus) and others elaborate (handmade head-to-toe costumes). The colorfully-attired participants came together on Fifth Avenue, where the dramatic Neo-Gothic exterior of St. Patrick’s Cathedral provided the perfect backdrop for their unofficial parade. They graciously posed for pictures for, and with, admirers from far and wide. I’m sure Southern hospitality has its charms, but when New York City plays host, you can be sure you’ll get a show.