STANLEY â€“ A sea of red and pink hats flooded the house of Raye Watson-Smyth Saturday afternoon.
Ready to make a dive in Watson-Smythâ€™s swimming pool, the â€œRed Hatters of Forest Ridgeâ€ joined together to celebrate their â€œBirthday Bash One Year Anniversary.â€
â€œItâ€™s hard to believe we have been together this long,â€ Watson-Smyth, the Queen Mother said.
The chapter of the Red Hat Society started out as a neighborhood group but has since expanded to include other members outside the community.
The 16 members only have five red hatters â€“ women older than 50 â€“ and the rest are pink hatters, women younger than 50.
â€œThe red hatters that we have are young at heart,â€ said Watson-Smyth, one of the red hatters.
Saturday afternoon, the women challenged each other to a game of volleyball in the pool. Each member also received a gift bag with their name on it. Later in the evening, their friends and husbands joined to continue the celebration.
The chapter makes outings once a month and always gets together once a week at the Sports Page Food & Spirits in Denver. The women also go line dancing every Tuesday.
Last Christmas, the red hatters adopted some residents at an assisted living center and went and sang Christmas carols. Now the group is saving money to donate to a battered women shelter.
â€œThe club is just about fun, there are no rules,â€ Watson-Smyth said.
One of her best friends, Trisha Norket of Charlotte, was the one who suggested Watson-Smyth start the group. After registering the chapter online, Watson-Smyth showed up at her neighborâ€™s pampered chef party adorned with a red hat and a purple outfit, the signifying outfit for a woman older than 50.
â€œUnfortunately the pampered chef ended up leaving early but we started our own little party,â€ Watson-Smyth said.
Mary Rohr, who moved to the area from Pennsylvania, said the neighborhood group has felt like family to her now and has helped her adapt to her new surroundings.
Watson-Smythâ€™s daughter, Debbie Glenn, a pink hatter who lives in Charlotte, is even a member of the group.
â€œI sort of got drafted in,â€ she said.
Tara Stottlemyer, a police officer from Charlotte, said she enjoys coming to the events as a way to â€œrelax.â€
Pam Lewis, a pink hatter from Stanley, said Watson-Smyth is one of her very persuasive friends.
â€œShe got me involved in doing it,â€ she said. â€œWe have a lot of fun.â€
Casa Bennie, a red hatter who lives in the neighborhood, said she and Watson-Smyth have been friends since she moved to the development four years ago.
â€œLife is all about having fun,â€ Bennie said. â€œYou always want to have your cup half full. You need to enjoy life with all the bad there is.â€
by Amy Wadsworth