At North Philadelphia's Bright Hope Baptist Church yesterday morning, members prayed for peace in their neighborhoods and a greater say in politics.

A few hours later and a few miles away, men, women, and several dogs in bonnets and hats garnished with flowers and plastic eggs paraded down a block of Second Street near South Street.

Their traditions may vary, but Philadelphians shared a love of Easter.

Despite temperatures that summoned images of pilgrims in dour colors eating turkey, Philadelphians donned lime greens, lavenders and pinks to fill churches or chow down on ham and chocolate bunnies.

Alberta Taylor, 86, and her son, Wesley, 60, sat in the front row of Bright Hope, near Temple University, to sing gospel and drink in the words of the church's new senior pastor, the Rev. Kevin R. Johnson.

Most Sundays find them in the same spot, but yesterday was special.

"Christ was raised from the dead, and that's what I truly do appreciate," Alberta Taylor said.

It helps me remember what I was put on this earth for," her son added. "To praise God."

For many Bright Hope members, the day started with a 5:45 a.m. walk that Johnson led to demand that residents have more say in local development projects.

Church members want John Wanamaker Middle School, a property at Cecil B. Moore Avenue and 11th Street that is for sale, to be used for the benefit of the church and the neighborhood.

They circled the property seven times, just as Joshua circled Jericho seven times to bring the walls down.

At services later that morning, hundreds of people crammed in to Bright Hope pews to hear the white-robed choir sing that "Life is Worth the Living Just Because He Lives."

Deacon Edith Jessup-Bullock prayed for God to "continue to bless our young black men who struggle with the gunfire of these streets."

As the sun shone through a stained-glass image of Jesus, Johnson urged members to exercise their political power.

"We need to vote," he said. "We need to register to vote."

People were dressed up, but only a few wore the Easter bonnets that once set a fashion standard.

"That's for children anymore," Alberta Taylor said. "It's not like it used to be."

Her son grabbed an Eagles cap from his seat and said, "This is my very special hat."

Easter millinery was easier to find at the annual Easter Parade on Second Street. Master of ceremonies Henri David wore a top hat at least two feet tall. On it, he hung hula hoops strung together with ribbon and adorned with plastic Easter eggs.

Jim and Maryann Moore of Pennsport had put a straw bonnet with Easter decorations on their boxer, Patches. Another dog wore a lime green tutu topped with a pink-and-green scarf that matched her owners'.

And Maxine Kam had dressed her caramel-colored standard poodle Nate in a cape that read, "The Matza Mensch," while the shirt on her bichon frise, Albert, said, "Kosher for Passover."

But the creative canine owners lost the best-dressed dog contest to a tiny dog with a curly black coat wearing a coat and cap with the Gucci logo. Dog and owner could not be found for an interview after their victory.

Cynthia Young-Nelson of Sharon Hill won for best-dressed family. They all wore lavender, including the tiny lavender bowler perched on the head of her 3-year-old nephew Qurahn Washington.

"Every year we wear a different color," Young-Nelson said, "but we always wear the same color as a family."

Contact staff writer Miriam Hill at 215-854-5520 or
Inquirer staff writer Jan Hefler contributed to this article.