Metro Weekly

Headgear: The JR.’s Easter Bonnet Contest is Sunday!

JR.’s Easter Bonnet Contest showcases elaborate, often hilarious creations

JR.’s Easter Bonnet Contest – Photo: Ward Morrison

David Perruzza always looks forward to JR.’s annual Easter Bonnet Contest. The event allows him to let his hair down — and then cover it in bows, hair accessories, and other accoutrement that adorn his bonnet.

“I always try to do something fun,” says Perruzza, the manager of JR.’s Bar and Grill. “This year, I’m going very simple, because I got into a scooter accident. I can’t really move, so I haven’t been able to go out and get all the stuff I need. But I found a hat that I’ll use this year.”

Fun is key to the annual contest, the winner of which is determined by audience vote. Contestants align along the bar’s second-floor balcony and present their creations to the crowd. The loudest applause determines who will head home with $200.

Because it’s D.C., politically-themed bonnets are all but guaranteed, and one patron who owns the famous “Barbie House” on Q Street NW often incorporates some of the Barbies from his yard into his hat’s theme. “Someone did a Titanic hat, with half the ship on top of the hat, the other half below, and little people floating underneath. And we had a Golden Showers hat,” says Perruzza, recalling some of the event’s most memorable bonnets (see page 24 for photographs of past years).

“One guy, Evan Cash, used mechanical legos, like K’Nex, to make a hat with mechanical bunnies. When you turned the hat on, the bunnies were fucking. It was amazing,” he laughs. “The following year, he did a Peeps merry-go-round. The only problem with that is you can’t tell what it’s doing in a picture. So when people see the picture, they say, ‘Oh, that’s it?’ But when you see it in motion, it’s perfection.”

The annual JR.’s Easter Bonnet Contest will take place Sunday, April 16 at 7 p.m. at 1519 17th St. NW. Participants must arrive by 6:45 p.m. For more information, visit

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at

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