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Hat's the way to do it; You need the right headgear to be an Easter egg-head. Marion McMullen looks back on the seasonal search for the perfect bonnet.

Byline: Marion McMullen

HOPPING to it to create an eye-catching Easter bonnet is a traditional way to welcome spring.

Cuddly toy bunny rabbits, ribbons, bows, spring flowers and, of course, eggs have all ended up as decorations when it comes to designing hats for this special time of year.

Flamboyance is the keyword and Brits have thrown restraint to the wind over the decades as they seek inspiration for the most colourful and extravagant Easter bonnet around.

Student Wendy MacInnes won PS15 for her mad hat creation, called Bouquet Garnis, in the finals of the London Tourist Board's Easter Bonnet Competition in 1969. The 18-year-old, from the London College of Fashion, created a giant picture hat featuring a mass of spring flowers and a brim circled by a picket fence and trellis covered with rambling roses.

British sweets Allsorts inspired student Susan Norsworthy's bonnet in 1974 while Harry Nicholson proved men could also have a head for Easter when he was the only male to enter the Easter bonnet parade at the Bell Green Working Men's Club in Coventry in 1979.

The tradition of Easter bonnets dates back to a time when people marked the end of Lent and fasting by digging out their finery and celebrating.

American composer Irving Berlin also helped to popularise the hat tradition with 1948 musical Easter Parade.

Judy Garland, Fred Astaire and Peter Lawford starred in the film, which carried the publicity tag line "The Happiest Musical Ever Made."

It was MGM's highest grossing film of the year and the title number included the lines: "In your Easter bonnet with all the food and wondered if it wouldn't look better as a hat."

Easter also used to be a popular time for weddings and the Easter Parade at Battersea in London has become another place to show off hand-made bonnets.

And the celebration was certainly the perfect excuse for Fred to act the goat back in 1975.

The sun was shining and spring was on its way when Cathy Coen paid a visit to Belle Vue Zoo in Manchester with thoughts of Easter bonnets on her mind.

But for Fred the goat Cathy's visit meant the chance for a quick snack.

Well, if you can't find a chocolate Easter egg to munch on then a bonnet is a good alternative... if you're a goat.

frills upon it/ You'll be the grandest lady in the Easter parade."

The song itself refers to the famous annual Easter parade in New York which goes from St Patrick's Cathedral to Fifth Avenue and attracts crowds from all over the world.

The informal walkabout dates back to the 1870s and allowed wealthy women in New York to display their new spring fashions - many direct from Paris.

Over the years the parade has grown and become more creative and it's not unusual to see headgear decorated with pet snakes, birds nests or rabbits.

The road is closed to traffic each year for the parade and dog owners often dress up their pets for the occasion.

Easter parades have also become a feature of the calendar in places like New Orleans, Toronto and Richmond.

The classic song Easter Parade first appeared in Irving Berlin's 1933 Broadway revue show As Thousands Cheer and popped up again in the movie Holiday Inn in 1942...

although the song's original title was Smile And Show Your Dimple.

Celebrities have been quick to get in on the Easter bonnet act and a showbusiness Easter bonnet competition fundraiser in America last year raised a whopping $4.25m - a record sum.

The 27th annual Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS Easter Bonnet Competition raised the money in a six week campaign of intensive fundraising, culminating in the Easter bonnet showdown at the Minskoff Theatre.

Tom Hanks, Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein presented the awards with the prize for outstanding bonnet design tied between The Lion King's smoke-breathing lion mask hat and a Spider-Man circus tent hat topped with a spider web design in lights.

Easter bonnets in the UK are as traditional as hot cross buns, chocolate eggs and the Easter bunny.

TV's Janet Street-Porter once said: "Sometimes I've looked at a plate of

CAPTION(S):

It may have been spring but Cathy Coen should have watched out for a bite in the air when she visited Belle Vue Zoo in Manchester in 1974

Susan Norsworthy's "Lickerish Supersweet" Easter bonnet from 1974

1985 Easter bonnet contest winner Ellen Taylor gets a kiss from North Tyneside Mayor, Cllr Sam Ingles, watched by Geraldine Fenny who was second

1980: This cracking idea took the prize for Easter Egg Head in a national newspaper competition

Winner of the 1979 Wood End Pensioners' Association Easter Bonnet parade Mrs Elizabeth Edmunds with Mr Harry Nicholson - the only man to take part

Model Karen Young wears a flower costume in 1966 in the days when apparently Easter was a lot warmer

Student Wendy MacInnes with her winning hat "Bouquet Garnis" in 1969
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 17, 2014
Words:827
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