Church services, free meals, unusual hats evoke spirit of Easter |

Church services, free meals, unusual hats evoke spirit of Easter

BOSTON (AP) – While millions of Americans streamed into churches for Easter services Sunday, about one hundred people gathered for a sun-splashed service for the homeless on the Boston Common.

The service has been held every Sunday since Easter 1995 near one of the city’s busiest street corners and over the sounds of sirens, laughing children and rumbling planes.

”Sometimes what happens here makes the bones tremble,” the Rev. Deborah W. Little, an Episcopal priest, told her congregation. ”It takes enormous courage for those who have little or nothing to come here and stand in this circle.”

The service, set against an arrangement of lilies, daffodils, and pastel eggs, included singing, prayer, music and testimonials from people with homes and those without.

Elsewhere, Easter observances included feeding the less fortunate.

In Atlanta, thousands of people attended the first Easter dinner served by Hosea Williams’ Feed the Hungry organization.

The late civil rights activist began the program 31 years ago to provide meals for poor and homeless people on Christmas and Thanksgiving. After his death last year, Williams’ daughters said they would expand the meals to other holidays.

In Los Angeles, several hundred homeless people gathered outside the Midnight Mission to get a free meal, take a picture with a 6-foot Easter bunny and get an autograph from actor Dick Van Dyke.

Mary Helen Sena in Pueblo, Colo., spent her first Easter with her daughter, Rose Mary Chavez, since she gave her up for adoption in 1972, when the girl was 3.

Chavez, who was adopted by a Wichita, Kan., family, spent the past five years looking for her birth mother and finally located her two weeks ago.

”I’ve always known that I was adopted and that one day I’d like to find my mother,” said Chavez, 31. ”This is one of the happiest days of my life. This is going to be an Easter I’ll never forget,” she said.

”This is the biggest Easter present I’ll ever have – to be with my baby,” said Sena.

In New York, thousands strolled on Fifth Avenue wearing eye-catching headgear.

Carmen Garcia wore a tribute to the late Cardinal John O’Connor. Her 3-foot-tall hat was festooned with pictures of O’Connor, religious medals and flowers.

O’Connor’s successor, Cardinal Edward Egan, who celebrated his first Easter Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral earlier in the day, beamed at the sight of O’Connor’s photo, and nodded approvingly. ”Very good!” he said.

Other hats bore real iguanas and model windmills. Emily Fox, 12, wore a sombrero with a miniature display of a horse-jumping contest. Her mother’s hat had a plastic pink flamingo laying a faux Faberge egg.

”We like to act out and scare tourists,” said her mother, Susan.

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