It is clear the word “lonely” does not belong in a Red Hatter’s lexicon. Across America and Canada, the only rules for Red Hatters are wearing purple clothing with red hats, adorning themselves with bling, and having fun.
Red Hat clubs were inspired by a well-known Jenny Joseph poem, Warning, which begins “When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple, with a red hat which doesn’t go.” Wikipedia says, “There are over 50,000 members in the United States and over 30 other countries.”
The Red Hat Society is an organization for women, and Red Hat Queen Ruth Hamaliuk is the longest-reigning queen in Edmonton at 18 years. At a Sept. 8 Ukrainian luncheon Hamaliuk organized, the rules were strictlyadhered to as the Parkdale-Cromdale Community League Hall became a sea of purple complete with waves of laughter and endless conversations as red hats bobbed and swayed.
The room only quieted twice, once for an attendee’s young niece, Olivia Mitchell. Dressed in mauve with a pink hat, Mitchell sang four songs for the group. Then, two dancers from the Veeteretz School of Ukrainian Dance performed. Both the dance group and Mitchell equally charmed the audience.
Hamaliuk said, “We are old ladies who worked our [entire] lives, raised our kids, and just want to have fun.”
On June 1-3, 300 Red Hatters from near and far attended the Red Hat Convention at Edmonton’s DoubleTree Hilton. Special hat events, Paint Nite, charm and apron exchanges, high tea, pirate/princess dinner, dinner theatre and more filled their convention calendar.
Known as the Diva of Desserts, Hamaliuk also attended a convention in Las Vegas, meeting Red Hatters from all over the globe. Hamaliuk said, “The African American Red Hatters sure know how to dress.”
Committed to planning fun events for her group, the Red Hat Cats, Hamaliuk is determined to carry out her queenly duties as long as possible, though she is looking for someone to share the planning tasks. She currently plans gatherings without a cell phone or computer. Recent events have been a picnic at Rundle Park, lunch at the Beverly Crest Cafe, and dinner at the Sawmill.
At events during your birthday month or in March, the society’s birthday, members can wear red clothing and purple hats. Women under 50 may wear lilac or mauve with pink hats. There are special ceremonies for Pink Hatters turning 50. In October, almost everyone shows off their witch costume at a yearly witch’s luncheon.
Meeting many women she now calls friends, Hamaliuk said, “There are many widows in the Red Hatters. We share the handy husbands.” Her own husband does yard work for two women.
Hamaliuk’s favourite thing to plan is her Ukrainian luncheon. At the event, Herma Hogendorp, member of the Free Spirits, said, “I came originally with two friends 15 years ago. I’m still attending and am a widow now. Friendship is the best part.”
Though only one queen reigns per club, all the women bling their red and purple like royalty and the chatter at the feast vibrates with friendship bonds practiced and worn true through life’s ups and downs.
The numerous groups in Edmonton and area include the Rambling Royals, Red Hat Cats, Red Hatter Angels, River City Hatters, Wrinkled Rubies, Flaming Floozies, Scarlet O’Hatters, Bling it on Beauty, Hattitude Sisters, Wild Rose Mamas, Merlot Bells, Red Hat Chili Peppers, New Sarepta Red Hats, Foxy Roses, Free Spirits, Regal Gems, Rosebud Rascals, Dames Royal, and Crimson Cats with Hats.
To find and join a group close to you, visit www.redhatsociety.com and use their search function.
Featured Image: Members of the Red Hat Cats attended a Ukrainian luncheon at Parkdale-Cromdale Community League. | Rusti Leha