Baltimore’s Easter parade in 1950, at North Charles and 31st streets. (Edward Nolan, Baltimore Sun file photo, 1950)
For decades, few days in Baltimore were more festive than Easter Sunday.
There were even dueling Easter parades, both dating back further than most anyone could remember. One was an annual gala stroll up Charles Street, beginning at the Washington Monument and ending at University Parkway. Women would wear their finest outfits and their new Easter bonnets, men would put on their best suits and top hats, vendors would hawk balloons to the children — it was all very grand.
A scene from the 1955 parade. (Edward Nolan, Baltimore Sun file photo, 1955)
Over on Pennsylvania Avenue, long the center of the city’s African-American community, its parade was every bit as much the crowd-pleaser. “There would be confetti as you walked down Pennsylvania Avenue, everyone in pinks and blues,” resident Evelyn Watkins remembered in 2010. “The bands, the dignitaries, everyone would be out. And all evening, people would be out socializing.”
Sadly, those days seem gone forever. The Charles Street parade eventually devolved into a long procession of automobiles — impressive, but not nearly as festive. For the 1959 parade, only a handful of people showed; one police officer called it not a parade, but “a supervised walk for 30 people.” Attempted revivals in the 1970s could never recapture the grandeur.
The Easter Bunny rides along Pennsylvania Avenue in a 2010 revival of the parade. (Jed Kirschbaum, Baltimore Sun photo, 2010)
The Pennsylvania Avenue parade fared little better. It seems to have lasted into the ‘80s, but has likewise vanished; an attempted revival a few years back seems to have not taken hold.
There doesn’t appear to be any parade scheduled for 2014. Surely, Easter bunnies everywhere are mourning the loss.