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EASTER BONNET WINNERS: From left, are Tommie Brown, Gloria Mitchum and Beatrice Edwards, the first, second and third-place winners in Thursday’s Easter Bonnet Parade at Valley Senior Center. More than 20 women and men participated. Senior Center participants also heard an Easter-themed message from the Rev. Jackie Banks and had an Easter egg hunt on the grassy area outside the Senior Center.

Valley Senior Center hosts Easter bonnet parade Thursday morning

VALLEY — Participants in Valley’s Senior Center program had a fun day on Thursday. They kicked off Easter week with an Easter bonnet parade, a Holy Week message from the Rev. Jackie Banks and finished up with an Easter egg hunt in front of the Senior Center.

“This is all in fun today,” said Alice Hall as she instructed a large group of women, and some men, to line up for an Easter hat parade. Senior Center member Ann Bullock sang “Here Comes Peter Cottontail” as those wearing hats walked to their seats inside the Donald Williams Activity Room. The first, second and third-place winners were Tommie Brown, Gloria Mitchum and Beatrice Edwards.

The Rev. Banks, who has been pastor at New Zion Baptist Church for 26 years, said Easter traditions are well and good but that we shouldn’t lose sight for why we celebrate it.

“This week is not about a bunny rabbit,” he said. “It’s about a lamb of God who took away the sins of the world.”

He concluded his comments by leading the group in singing the old-time gospel song, “Do Not Pass Me By.”

The new senior center director, Melissa Pitchford-Hawkins, welcomed former director Ron Fancher and his wife, Joyce, to the program. Fancher recently retired after directing the senior program for a number of years.

Wearing an Easter bonnet is a long-time tradition that was widely popularized by the Irving Berlin song “Easter Parade.”

It represents the tail end of a tradition of wearing new clothes at Easter, underscoring being in harmony with a new year and the promise of spiritual renewal and redemption.

In England, wearing Easter bonnet goes back to the time before William Shakespeare, who made references to them in his extensive writings.