By Barbara Russell, West Philadelphia Senior Community Center
A few years ago, I went to a conference and saw a sea of women over 60 years old, dressed in the crazy colors of purple and red. Each one was wearing a red hat, some classy and some as crazy as a hat can get. These women were dancing, doing the Philadelphia Mummers strut, blowing into a kazoo and just having a great time. I couldn’t help thinking and saying, “Who would wear purple and red together?” It was then that I learned that these women were attending a “hoot.” A hoot?! I thought, “What in the world is a hoot?” A “hoot” turned out to be a gathering of women who wear purple and red clothing and red hats with a theme of “girls just wanna have fun.” And, having fun they did! There were about 300 women, all colors, sizes and nationalities. I immediately knew that I wanted to be a part of this unusual sisterhood.
In addition to being a member at the West Philadelphia Senior Community Center, I accepted employment there and soon noticed how the interests of the age groups were so varied. Many of the younger women were not interested in some of the activities that were of interest to the others. I started thinking about the things that I enjoy and how to bring more of the women together at the Center. The answer was clear, interacting with others, traveling, and keeping as young as possible for as long as possible. Then it clicked! I remembered that red hat group I’d seen a few years before. That was it! We will start our own Red Hat Chapter. The response was overwhelming. The National Red Hat Society was contacted and WPSCC received its official Chapter designation as the WPSCC Red Hatters. The Chapter has grown from 10 members to 30, and will begin its first recruitment effort in order to reach our goal of 40-50 active members.
The Chapter is now entering its fourth year and recently changed its name to the Dazzling Red Hatters of WPSCC. We have learned all sorts of new terms such as “gatherings,” instead of meetings and, of course, the “hoot.” Being a Red Hatter has reenergized those who joined the Chapter. The Chapter interacts with other Red Hat groups throughout the City of Philadelphia, Delaware and New Jersey. There are weekend trips, high teas, fashion shows and fun, fun, fun. We have royal titles too: Queen Moms, Queens, Duchesses and Princesses,etc.
For women who have not yet reached age 50 – daughters, granddaughters, nieces –there are Pink Hatters. These young women participate in all Red Hat events, however, must be Pink Hatters until they reach the happy age of 50.
What are all Red and Pink Hatters looking forward to? Continued renewed energy, a great sisterhood of women of all nationalities, the desire to continue to JUST HAVE FUN, and the 2014 National Conference in San Francisco. HOOT! HOOT!
The West Philadelphia Senior Community Center is funded by the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging and the Pennsylvania Department of Aging and administered by Lutheran Children and Family Service, a service of Liberty Lutheran.
For more information on the West Philadelphia Senior Community Center and the Dazzling Red Hatters of WPSCC, contact Barbara Russell at 215-386-0379.