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Herald JournalHerald Journal, April 25, 2005

Painting the town red with 'hattitude'

By Teresa Jagodzinski

Red cookies and hot coffee flowed last week at the St. Mary’s Care Center, where two “Red Hat Society” groups met to mingle with residents during one of their outings.

The groups – the Red Rubies and Mad Red Hatters – are composed of Winsted middle-aged women who enjoy a growing trend of “women with hattitude,” socializing with purple and red attire.

There are also groups in Howard Lake and other towns, usually made up of about a dozen women or fewer.

Betty Diers of Winsted organized the Ruby Chicks in November 2004.

“We’re just a group of women that love to get together, relax and leave our cares behind,” Diers said. “When one reaches middle life it’s time to do just that!”

They were formed by word of mouth, and they get together once a month, she said.

“As with any group of people, it’s hard to get everyone together, but when we get together, boy we have a good time,” she said.

Their socializing consists of going out to eat, attending plays or cultural events, bus tours, outdoor activities, coffee meetings and anything else that would be fun to do.

They keep the group size small to make outings easier to attend as a group, and easier to socialize with every member during their time together, she said.

Karen Dawes is one of the organizers of Winsted’s other group, the Mad Red Hatters, which was formed in spring 2003.

“We were a group of friends who wanted to find something fun to do,” Dawes explained.

They also meet once a month.

“We always attract attention when we go out,” Dawes said.

“Most of the time, we do things for ourselves,” Diers said. “But our group decided to do something for someone else once a year.”

That being a joint social event at St. Mary’s Care Center to celebratenational Red Hatter day today (Monday).

They visited with the residents and gave each of them a red sugar cookie and a Red Hatter napkin.

Generally, the ladies cause a stir with their red hats and purple attire.

The Red Hat Society is an international group of women which is rapidly growing around the world.

Members must be 50 years of age and up.

Women under 50 may join, but they wear pink hats and lavender attire until their 50th birthdays.

According to the Red Hat Society web site,, the main responsibility of the women is “to have fun. We believe silliness is the comedy relief of life, and since we are all in it together, we might as well join red-gloved hands and go for the gusto together.”

Underneath the frivolity, there is a bond of affection, forged by common life experiences and a genuine enthusiasm for life.

How it was started

The society was started several years ago by a woman named Sue Ellen Cooper.

She sent a red hat and a copy of the poem “Warning” written by English woman Jenny Joseph to a friend for her birthday.

Her friend enjoyed it so much, so Cooper sent it to a few more friends.

One day they decided to buy purple dresses and wear them with the red hats and go out to tea like it is stated in the poem.

It was a huge success, so they got more friends involved, and from there it kept growing to where it is today.

Both of the Winsted groups are full, but both Dawes and Diers would be happy to help anyone else who wants to form their own Red Hatter group.

Diers may be reached at (320) 485-2385, or Dawes at (320) 485-4312 for more information.

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