If you aren’t originally from Richmond, you should probably know that Easter on Parade is one of our fair city’s many quirks. The name might lead you to believe the city hosts an actual Easter parade… this is not the case. Instead, Richmonders themselves make up the parade, walking up and down Monument Avenue, which is closed between Allen and Davis avenues from 1 to 5 p.m.
If you are lucky enough to have friends who live in the area, you just might get invited to one of many fabulous Easter parties on or near the “parade” zone. Snacks and drinks freely flow before, after and during because honestly a dry stroll down Monument Avenue is really just a work out and that’s no way to spend a holiday.
Easter on Parade Attire
At the actual “parade,” it’s always interesting to see what people consider their Easter finest—plan to take in everything from super chic ladies in fabulous Kentucky Derby-worthy hats to men in drag wearing absolutely crazy ensembles. Anything and everything goes. There is also fair food, kids’ activities and live music throughout the afternoon.
If you go, you can pretty much get away with whatever you want, but ladies who want to dress in high Richmond style should wear an Easter dress and a hat. Straw, fancy, fascinator, it’s your pick as long as it’s an Easter bonnet. Ignatius hats are always appropriate as well. Guys, anything from khaki shorts and a polo to a full out seersucker suit and fedora or Easter-toned sport coat will look great.
Hosting an Easter on Parade Party
Since my apartment is in the Museum District, I’ve hosted the occasional Easter on Parade party. There’s nothing like getting a diverse group of friends together, indulging in some delicious food and beverages, then rounding everyone up for a fun stroll along the parade route. Here are some of my favorite recipes and tips.
Brunch, Baby Brunch
Who doesn’t love a brunch party? With the parade starting at 1, this is the perfect opportunity to pull out your favorite breakfast recipes. I love brunch parties because you can certainly go high end with eggs Benedict and house-made chicken and waffles, but it’s also perfectly acceptable and enjoyable to whip up some easy, appetizing casseroles that will please a big group. This French Toast Casserole with Bacon Streusel is one of my favorite recipes. It’s easy to throw together and doesn’t require much precision. The addition of a bacon-streusel topping takes a traditional brunch dish up a notch. And don’t worry—the small amount of bacon adds a smoky, salty, savory note, but does not overpower the cinnamon-sugar flavor of this signature brunch dish.
If you just don’t want to cook, another favorite go-to of mine is Mediterranean take-out. There are few guests who don’t like noshing on some form of hummus, tabouli, etc. For this, head to 2M Mediterranean Market & Deli. You can place a catering order in advance, but I’ve gone in right before Easter and snagged a nice selection of house-made pita chips, hummus, tabouli, tzatzkiki and stuffed grapeleaves that left all my guests asking where the delicious snacks came from. Chef/owner Adis Majkovic is generally in the store and will allow you to taste some of his creations before you buy as well.
Don’t Forget the Drinks
Of course, mimosas are key for an event such as this. Check out my How to Build a Bubbles Bar article for tips on making a mimosa bar, which would be perfect for this event. In addition, I’ve concocted a simple brunch cocktail that’s perfectly easy to blend on demand. Try The Easter Blossom. Want something a little more serious? My favorite Knockout Bourbon Punch or Peach-Basil Sangria will also be perfectly appropriate.
About 15 minutes before you want your party people to head down to the parade, pull out some these cute coffee cups for your guests to fill with coffee, water… or any other beverages they want to bring along, wink wink.
As you wander and friends see people they know you will inevitably lose track of some people. You may want to make sure everyone has your phone number or set a specified time when you’ll be back home in case anyone needs anything they left in your home or needs a bathroom break!
French Toast Casserole with Bacon Streusel Recipe
1 small loaf French bread or 1/2 loaf crusty Italian bread
1 loaf cinnamon-swirl bread
1 ½ cups milk
1/4 cup packed brown sugar (If you skip the cinnamon-sugar bread, up this to 2/3 cup)
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. cinnamon
The streusel topping or adding the bacon topping to the streusel are both optional, but it really makes the dish extra special.
4 slices bacon
½ cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. salt
1 stick cold butter, cut into pieces
Maple or hickory syrup, for serving
Let me preface the preparation for this recipe by saying the reason I love breakfast casseroles like this one is they’re pretty darn tough to screw up. If you’re making Hollandaise from scratch, precision in terms of ingredients and timing matters. With this recipe, you have the luxury of being loose. Have a little less or different types of bread on hand? Go with it. Want a more custardy casserole? Up the eggs and milk. Did you put this in the oven, then hop in the shower and overcook it for a few minutes? No worries. Need to cook with something else? Another oven temperature that’s not too far off will probably work, just keep an eye on it.
The night before: Assemble the casserole. Butter or grease a 9×13-inch pan. Tear bread into roughly 1-inch pieces and add to pan, mixing two types of bread evenly. In a smaller bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, brown sugar, vanilla extract and cinnamon. Pour over bread, making sure mixture makes it around all of the bread. If for some reason it doesn’t, stir together another egg and some milk and add to the pan. Cover and place in the refrigerator so the bread soaks up the milk/egg mixture overnight.
The next morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees. While the oven heats, cook the bacon until almost crispy. Drain grease and chop fine. In a bowl stir together flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Cut in cold butter until well blended. The mixture will be crumbly. Stir in bacon. Remove casserole from refrigerator. Sprinkle with bacon streusel mixture, then bake for 35 minutes or until casserole is set.
Serve with syrup for drizzling on top.
The Easter Blossom Cocktail Recipe
4 oz. prosecco
1 oz. pomegranate or cranberry-pomegranate juice
¾ oz. St-Germain
Fill a glass with ice. Add prosecco and juice. Stir to combine. Top with St-Germain and serve. If your guests like sweeter drinks, reduce prosecco to 3 oz. or up quantities of juice and St-Germain.