PDT Staff Writer
It all began in 1997 with a red bowler hat given by Ellen Cooper to a friend as a gift for her 55th birthday, which she had purchased at an antique store. Cooper continued to give the gift of a red bowler to other women, along with a copy of a poem titled, “Warning,” written by Jenny Joseph.
Cooper’s generosity has evolved into a gathering of ladies at tea parties dressed in red hats and purple outfits, and the Red Hat Society was born.
In addition to thousands of chapters in the United States, the Red Hat Society now has chapters in Australia, Austria, Italy, Germany, South Africa, Japan and many more countries.
Raejean Wagner, of West Portsmouth, has been a member of the Red Hat Society since 2005 and is seeking to get other women involved in the organization.
“I am trying to get the word out about the Red Hat Society. I am a new Queen as of March of last year. There’s about eight of us registered with the redhatsociety.com. They do ask that you register with the society, and the membership is $20 per year,” Wagner said.
“It’s a great sisterhood. It promotes fun, friendship, freedom and fulfillment,” Wagner said.
As an example of that sisterhood, Wagner cites a time when she and her husband were visiting the Tampa, Fla., area.
“I was able to connect with a chapter of the Red Hat Society there in the Tampa area,” Wagner said. “I got in touch with the Divison Queen there. She sent an email blast out to the other Queens to invite me out. I ended up attending six different groups, and attended a luncheon, a bus trip and some other nice activities.”
Wagner’s title is “Queen Rambling Rose,” because she is the Queen of a local chapter of the Red Hat Society called Rambling Roses. The title of “Queen” is given to women who are founders or leaders of a local chapter. Women of any age may become a member of the Society, a detail Wagner wanted to emphasize. Members who are 50 and older are called “Red Hatters” and sport the red hats and purple attire. Women who are under the age of 50 wear pink hats and lavender until they reach 50.
Activities for the Red Hat Society include theater or cinema trips, crafts or games, which vary depending upon the chapter. Chapters of the Red Hat Society work together to host large, regional events, as well as the “Hatquarters,” which hosts a variety of official Red Hat Society events each year.
The Red Hat Society has published several books, such as Red Hat Society’s Laugh Lines: Stories of Inspiration and Hattitude, and Sassy, Classy, and Still Sparkling.
Any woman who is interested in becoming a member of the Red Hat Society may contact Wagner at 740-858-5918.
Portia Williams may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 234 or firstname.lastname@example.org.