By Helena Rodriguez
There are no rules. No dues. No committees. No officers. No charity work. No men allowed. No set meeting dates. No actual meetings or parliamentary procedure. And absolutely no responsibilities.
The only requirements to be a member of the Red Hat Society is you must be a woman age 50 or over, you must wear a red hat (preferably with purple accessories) and you must know how to leave your spouse, kids and grandkids behind and just have fun. There is also a junior Red Hat Society, the Pink Hatters, who are between age 40 and 49 and wear pink and lavender.
“The Pink Hatters just haven’t gotten old enough to have as much fun yet as the Red Hatters,” said Marjorie Porter of the Vivacious Vixens Red Hat chapter in Portales.
The Red Hat Society has become a nationwide sisterhood, with chapters springing up in communities in every state. The social phenomenon began as a result of a few women who decided to greet middle age with “verve, humor and elan” and were very much inspired by Jenny Joseph’s poem, “Warning.”
With names such as the Vivacious Vixens of Portales, the Red Hot Mamas of Hereford, Texas, and the Red Hat Floozies in Clovis, these women are showing that boredom doesn’t have to accompany the aging process. Clovis also has another Red Hat Society chapter.
“There is life after 50,” Porter said. “We’re just a group of close friends having fun!”
During the recent Heritage Days in Portales, Red Hatters from eastern New Mexico and West Texas, including Clovis, Portales, Hereford and Muleshoe, rode in the Portales Heritage Days parade last weekend and then got together afterward for an informal social in the Memorial Building. They also got together in Muleshoe recently for a Spring Fling and plan to hold occasional get togethers.
There are currently about 23,500 Red Hat Society chapters around the United States, according to Betty Shober of Clovis’ Red Hat Floozies. However, the area chapters are somewhat new and just getting into the red and purple fever.
The Red Hat Floozies just celebrated their first anniversary in April while the Portales chapter only became active in January and the Hereford Chapter began in March.
For the Red Hatters, age 50 and beyond is a carefree time to turn loose and live. Anna Foster of the Vivacious Vixens said the Portales group’s theme song is “Girl’s Just Want to Have Fun.” Foster is the queen mother of the Portales chapter, a title given to founding members.
By age 50, most Red Hatters have already raised their children and have had successful careers. They’ve been active with their communities, doing charity work through other organizations, and are looking ahead to retirement and to doing things they always wished they could but have not done yet.
The Vivacious Vixens recently turned down a request to help with a non-profit fundraiser. Porter explained, “We are not being selfish. We do charity work with other organizations we are involved in. This is the one thing where you don’t have all that.”
Porter went on to explain the Red Hat Society’s mentality, saying, “I hope we are feisty, but we are not snooty.”
Red Hatters often carry the red and purple color scheme to the extreme. Mary Hamby of the Hereford chapter showed up to the Portales social with a red and purple hat she described as “gaudy” and “eccentric.” The $4 headpiece was adorned with a long, frilly $3 boa, and purple silk flowers.
“After age 50, you can wear whatever you want,” Hamby said and then added, “Until you get to your 50s, your life is so structured with your family and everything, and after that, it’s like, ‘Who cares?’”
For information on Red Hatters go to their Web site at www.redhatsociety.com