Like the Cyndi Lauper song says, “girls just want to have fun,” and no one lives up to that motto more than members of the Red Hat Society.
One of the local chapters of the Red Hat Society is Sister Act, which was started by Annie Keller in 2007 with 15 members. It now has 39 members.
“The Red Hat Society is about sisterhood, getting together, having fun and meeting new ladies,” said Annie, chapter queen.
“It all started with Sue Ellen Cooper, who organized it out of California when her and her best friend went to lunch one day. Sue Ellen stopped by a shop and bought a red hat and gave it to her best friend at lunch. They got so many compliments about that red hat that the next time they met up, they had on purple clothes with the red hat. It became such an item that they started the Red Hat Society.”
Members of the society have to be at least 50, and they wear purple clothes and a red hat when at a chapter function.
Annie said there are more than a million members all over the world.
She started Sister Act after seeing Red Hatters at a parade.
“I had never heard of the Red Hat Society,” she said. “These women had on all this pretty purple and red, and I thought what in the world. I asked the ladies what it was about. They said Red Hat Society, and I asked what that meant. They said women over 50 having fun.”
Annie asked to join, but was told that chapter was full, but she could start her own. And that’s what she did.
Delores Jones, treasurer, is one of the original members.
“I don’t have any sisters,” she said, “and now I have 38 sisters to bond with. It’s really cool.”
Delores has a lot of red and purple in her wardrobe just for Sister Act.
“When we first started, it was a little rough because purple is not a color that you go into the store and find every time,” she said. “I had to build up my clothes. Through the years, I have accumulated quite a bit. When I go into a store and find something, I grab it right then.”
Delores said she was not a fan of from page E1costume jewelry before joining Sister Act, but now she goes to the meetings and functions all blinged out.
“I enjoy it all,” she said. “It just looks so pretty when we all get together.”
Although Delores has quite a wardrobe for the Red Hat Society, she doesn’t come close to Annie, who even has a purple and red room for all her items. Those include pantsuits, boots, flip flops, sneakers, dresses, skirts and blouses.
New member Bert Davis, who joined about a month ago, said she has some red, but no purple.
“I guess I wasn’t a purple person,” she said, “but I’m going to start now. I’m looking forward to building my wardrobe in purple and red, and lots of bling bling.”
In addition to wearing fun clothing, Sister Act members love to do fun things, such as cruises, fashion shows, cocktail sips, going to plays and movies, going out to lunch and a multitude of other activities.
Delores has been on three cruises with Sister Act.
“We went on a cruise to the Bahamas to celebrate our 10th anniversary,” she said. “On a cruise, we have fun. We do different things in separate little groups. Then at night, we get together and go to the shows.”
The chapter meets the second Saturday of each month, except during the summer. Members make sure to have a special function at Christmas time.
And they go to various Red Hat Society conventions.
“The vice queen and I went to New York in 2016 for an international convention and there were about 800 or 900 ladies there,” Annie said. “We met Sue Ellen, and she officially crowned us, just like they do over in England. I felt like I had raised up off the floor, I was so blessed.”
Last year, Annie went to another international convention in New Orleans, where about 1,500 Red Hatters gathered.
“While there, three young ladies and a fellow came up to me wanting to know what was going on,” she said. “I told them, and they asked if they could join the Red Hat Society. I told them no, but they could start a chapter for young ladies called Pink Hatters and wear pink and lavender. The girls then argued over who would be the queen when they started their Pink Hat chapter.”
Wherever Sister Act members go as a chapter, they get stares and people asking to take photos of them.
But it’s all part of the fun.
And that’s what Bert is looking forward to.
“The vice queen got me interested,” she said. “I was watching her, and she seemed to be so happy being part of this group. My kids are grown, and I’ve got grandkids and my husband’s deceased. I don’t have any sisters. Now I have 39. And I really need that in my life because I feel lonely not having sisters of my own. It can fill all those empty moments and times that I’m by myself.”
Annie said a woman is never too old to have fun.
“That’s about all we can do,” she said. “We’re doing us now.”