Visitors gathered on a breezy but warm and sunny afternoon in Dillsboro which was perfect backdrop for the 27th annual Easter Hat parade. This year’s parade was the best attended of any in the parade’s history. Dillsboro’s sidewalks were packed with visitors from throughout North Carolina and the Southeast, many sporting festive Easter hats. Classic cars and the newest addition to the parade, Mini Coopers, decorated with Easter bunnies, streamers, flowers and even hats lined up alongside Front Street.
Outside of Dogwood Crafters, volunteers helped visitors craft their own unique Easter hats with Easter eggs, yarn, flowers and streamers. Brenda Anders of Dogwood Crafters and head organizer of the parade, estimates that volunteers made 300 to 400 hats for the parade, and the parade brought in several hundred visitors. Other visitors
could be seen throughout the town with elaborately and beautifully crafted hats they had brought from home.
Throughout the afternoon attendees visited stores where merchants greeted them with friendly smiles and compliments on their hats. A sense of anticipation built as the hour of the parade approached.
When the time came, the classic cars and Mini Coopers led the parade down Front Street and around the town. The drivers threw candy, waved and honked as they went.
Then came the hats! Boys and girls, men and women, old and young alike proudly paraded down the street smiling and waving at the crowd gathered on the sidewalks. Some carefully tilted their heads and pointed at their hats as they went, to show the carefully crafted nuances of their hats to the judges’ sharp eyes.
After the parade, the winners were announced to a cheering crowd outside the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad’s former depot. Awards were given to youngest to oldest hat wearers to tallest and smallest hats, as well as awards for the best dressed dogs.
Chelsea Treadway, a recent college graduate, was also acknowledged at the award gathering. “Chelsea is one of our ‘original girls,’” Anders said. “She attended the parade throughout her childhood, grew up and went off to college and now has come back to the parade. It was great to see her again.”
Dillsboro’s Easter Hat Parade started off as an “off-the-cuff” event with three or four merchants deciding to parade down the streets of Dillsboro on Easter Saturday. The parade has always been “about having fun” according to Anders, and she is glad to see that it has grown and become a family tradition to so many throughout the region.
For a video slideshow of the parade created by Our State Magazine, click here: http://visitdillsboro.org/hat_fest_ss/index.html
And for more information about the Easter Hat Parade and other events: http://www.dogwoodcrafters.com/events.html