March 31, 2013

The 1800s make a comeback in Old Sac Easter parade

The threat of rain didn't put a damper on this year's Easter Bonnet Promenade in Old Sacramento.

The threat of rain didn't put a damper on this year's Easter Bonnet Promenade in Old Sacramento.

Forty people, decked out in colorful costumes from the 1800s, strolled through the streets of the historic district on Saturday to celebrate Easter and the coming of spring.

"We bring history to life," said Terry Eargle, who with her husband, Ray, drove from Rocklin for the event.

The couple have participated in the parade for nearly two decades and have been in numerous films as well. Over the years, they have amassed a "closet full of costumes and props," Eargle said.

The informal parade started at the Sacramento History Museum and looped around to the boardwalk before ending in front of an eatery. Some onlookers, including children, gawked when they saw the costumes, while others took out cameras to snap some shots.

"It's very cute," said Cassie Newman of Auburn, who giggled as the people walked by.

"Easter used to be a big deal," said Erik Byberg, 36. "Now you have things like Facebook, Twitter and the Internet."

Byberg, dressed as a Union soldier from 1850, and fiancée Dyana Martin, 33, stood out in a group that was largely made up of older folks.

Event organizer Penny Adams of the Old Sacramento Living History Program noted that the tradition of Easter strolls has existed for hundreds of years, first starting in Europe but then spreading to the United States in the early 1800s.

Getting ready for the parade can take time and cost money.

"These costumes are mostly handmade and can cost up to $100 or more," Adams said, adding that each piece of clothing can take weeks or even months to make.

In addition to organizing the annual Easter Bonnet Promenade, which is in its 18th year, the history society also puts on "Gold Rush Day" on Labor Day and mock re-enactments of the Wild West throughout the year.

At age 16, Paige Auteri, a senior in high school, was the youngest member of Saturday's parade.

"We're keeping it alive," she said. "This is much more hands-on than reading from a textbook."

Call The Bee's Richard Chang, (916) 321-1018. Follow him on Twitter @RichardYChang.

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