When you think of an Easter bonnet, what comes to mind? Perhaps a woven white or tan hat with a soft dome shape on top, a not-too-stiff brim and maybe ribbons or small flowers in pastel colors for decoration.

It's probably safe to say you don't imagine a heavy, four-foot-tall headdress packed with brightly colored wrapped Easter presents, Peeps or plastic butterflies.

But if you've ever been to Fifth Avenue in New York City on Easter, that's exactly what you'd see. In an annual tradition that dates back to the 1870s, "celebrants don festive finery and show off their very best bonnets" for the Easter Bonnet Parade on NYC's most fashionable thoroughfare.

The headgear that makes an appearance on this day can be elegant, wild, Easter-related or not at all connected to the holiday. Yet the level of outlandishness rivals even that of other "huge hat holidays," such as the Royal Ascot or Kentucky Derby.

Woman in old photo wearing huge Easter bonnet
The people sitting behind her at church probably couldn't even see the Mass. (Photo: Everett Collection/Shutterstock)

Check out some of the eye-popping creations from previous Easter bonnet parades that make this stuffed-rabbit-in-a-basket-with-ducks monstrosity (above) seem tame in comparison.

Woman wearing a yellow butterfly Easter bonnet
This woman donned a yellow Easter bonnet with flowers and butterflies for the 2016 Easter Bonnet Parade in New York City. (Photo: Glynnis Jones/Shutterstock)

Believe it or not, we're starting off on the more subdued end of the spectrum. This woman looks lovely in a soft yellow paper-and-butterfly-topped hat with a dramatic dip in the back.

Man and dog wearing Easter hats during the NYC Easter Bonnet Parade.
Easter hat fun isn't just for the ladies. (Photo: TD Dolci/Shutterstock)

Lest you assume Easter hats are just for women and girls, think again. Gentlemen of all ages and their furry companions get in on the fun with costumes to match what's on their heads.

Woman wearing huge Easter hat at 2012 NYC Easter Bonnet Parade
Doesn't she need both hands to hold that thing up? (Photo: lev radin/Shutterstock)

Seriously, her hat is as big as she is. How is she not falling over?

Woman wearing Easter bonnet decorated with Peeps
It just wouldn't be Easter without a Peep rainbow. (Photo: TD Dolci/Shutterstock)

Peeps are to Easter what candy canes are to Christmas. The difference is that Peeps are disgusting, so why not glue them to a hat? They're practically inedible anyway.

Two men wearing huge Easter hats at NYC Easter Bonnet Parade
Easter baskets, Easter eggs, flowers — these two raided the Easter aisle at Target and put it all on their heads. (Photo: LEE SNIDER PHOTO IMAGES/Shutterstock)

No Easter-themed decoration is off-limits. So if you want to raid your local Target for baskets, eggs and tacky cardboard bunny decorations and assemble them on top of your head, go for it.

A participant in a 2012 Easter hat contest in San Francisco.
A participant in a 2012 Easter hat contest in San Francisco. (Photo: torbakhopper/flickr)

This bearded, tattooed man proudly sports plastic neon flying pigs in a San Francisco park for an Easter hat competition.

Woman wearing outrageous Easter hat
This woman comes bearing Easter gifts — literally. (Photo: DWinton/flickr)

This parade reveler seems to have obstructed viewing thanks to the pile of presents on her noggin. Meanwhile the child next to her stays warm in a fuzzy (and reasonably sized) blue floral Easter hat.

Woman at NYC Easter Bonnet Parade
This woman actually looks rather lovely, with the sunshine highlighting the spring flowers on her comparatively tame hat. (Photo: DWinton/flickr)

The bright sunshine seems to be growing the giant flowers on the top of this hat while we watch.

Woman holding a dog and wearing an Easter hat with huge flowers
This hefty headpiece looks more like a dining room table centerpiece. (Photo: Michael Fleshman/flickr)

Upside-down Easter baskets are a common choice for the base of these bonnets. However, this one looks more suited to be a table centerpiece than a headpiece.

Woman wearing big yellow Easter bonnet
A forsythia-inspired vision in yellow at the 2012 New York City Easter Bonnet Parade. (Photo: Michael Fleshman/flickr)

A forsythia-and-cornucopia-inspired yellow Easter bonnet channeled the spring sunshine even when the temperature wasn't bringing the warmth.

This foursome gives a new meaning to the phrase "carrot top."
This foursome gives a new meaning to the phrase "carrot top." (Photo: Harold Neal /flickr)

You've heard the term carrot top, right? This foursome who donned giant carrots give the phrase a whole new meaning. Maybe some of the giant bunnies in the other hats can have a snack.

Little girl wearing a big Easter hat of flowers
Easter bonnets are fun for all ages. Just look at that sweet little face. (Photo: Michael Fleshman/flickr)

Not sure what's in the hat, but it's colorful and just adorable framing her smiling face. Happy Easter!

Angela Nelson ( @bostonangela ) is an exhausted mom of two young daughters and two old cats, and a Pulitzer Prize-winning digital editor with more than 15 years of experience delivering news and information to audiences worldwide.