Easter arrives early this year (it was on Apr. 24 in 2011), which means another weekend of bonnets, Easter eggs, chocolate, bunnies and yes, that parade in New York City.

Scheduled for Easter Sunday, the parade action will begin promptly at 10 a.m. EST and go through 4 p.m. along Fifth Avenue, marching north from East 49th Street all the way up to East 57th Street.

Fifth Avenue will be closed to car traffic, but folks should still be on the lookout for life sized bonnets and dressed up pets that will surely draw plenty of attention from photographers.

According to NYCGo.com, the best place to watch all the parade and bonnet action is around St. Patrick's Cathedral, between East 50th and 51st Streets.

With the first New York City Easter parade dating back to the 1880s, the annual event has increased in both participants and spectators.

Last year's Easter parade saw protests from two small LGBT activist groups, who showed up to bring awareness to civil rights including marriage equality. Less than two months later, New York State passed the Marriage Equality Act to allow gender-neutral marriages for same and opposite sex couples. The law officially took effect on July 24, 2011.

Before attending the big parade, thousands are also expected to attend mass on Sunday.

St. Patrick's Cathedral will have Easter Vigil at 8 p.m. on Saturday in the Main Alter. Mass will follow a regular Sunday schedule, except for the 10:15 a.m. slot, which requires tickets. For more information visit saintpatrickscathedral.org

St. Thomas Church will have Solemn Eucharist at 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Sunday, followed by Solemn Evensong at 3 p.m. For more information visit saintthomaschurch.org

Fifth Ave. Presbyterian Church will have worship services at 9:10 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. in the Sanctuary. For more information visit fapc.org

Happy Easter 2012!

View Larger Map