Sherry Anulies encountered a mystery at a restaurant in Ohio the first time she saw a table of women wearing red hats.
The women, dressed in purple, sported all different types of red hats and seemed to be involved in enlightening conversation.
Her curiosity led her to talk to them to find out what they were all about.
She discovered it was all about friendship and humor.
And, of course, all the women wearing red hats were older than 50.
â€œItâ€™s a wonderful way for women to get together and be silly,â€ Anulies said.
After moving to Mount Holly, Anulies joined the chapter in Gastonia.
It was not long before Anulies decided she wanted to start her own chapter in Denver.
Anulies was crowned the Queen Mother and helped start the chapter called â€œThe Red Hat Mammas.â€ With help from a friend, Barbara Sajdak, the chapter was created.
â€œIt sounded like a really fun thing,â€ Sajdak said. â€œWe mentioned it to some people and instantaneously we had 18 people and now we have almost 30 members.â€
The group was formed last November, and they just recently celebrated their one year anniversary.
The group of ladies meets roughly three times a month and partakes in all sorts of activities.
Some of the things they have done include going through the corn maze in Shelby, going to various plays in Charlotte and Lincolnton and also having gatherings at membersâ€™ houses.
And each time they meet they always flaunt their red hats and purple attire.
Itâ€™s also about the jewelry.
â€œYou can wear more jewelry that you never would do, but now you can cause youâ€™re old and wear purple,â€ Anulies said.
Sue Rogers, a member from Denver, has a collection of hats that she had made. Some are made of shiny red and purple material, and others are more conservative, like a red ball cap.
She has been a member almost since the beginning.
â€œAfter I saw information about it (the Red Hat Society) in the paper I thought why not?â€ she said.
Rogers has made a red bag for the chapter. The bag has little hats and silver glitter all over it. She has also decorated tennis shoes.
She enjoys being in the chapter and loves all the people she has encountered.
â€œEveryone that I have met are all really nice,â€ she said.
The group even had the opportunity to go to a convention in Greensboro with other Red Hat Society chapters.
â€œThere were over 500 of us, you would look out and see all red hats â€” there were no red hats alike,â€ Anulies said.
The group has also been to Concord Mills Mall, where there was a gathering of 300 red-hatted women.
â€œWe took over the whole mall,â€ she said.
Anulies said the reason she loves the group so much is the friendships.
â€œIf you needed help you would know where to go, these ladies would be at your doorstep. We care about each other,â€ she said.
Wendy Ciafaglione of Denver also loves the friendships she had made.
â€œEverybody is so friendly and open â€” people are so inclusive,â€ Ciafaglione said.
The Red Hat Society has about 35,000 chapters with about 850,000 members in more than 25 countries including Canada, Australia and Mexico. There are also chapters in Japan and Egypt.
Sue Ellen Cooper of Fullerton, Calif. was the key to the beginning of what would become the Red Hat Society.
After reading the 1961 poem â€œWarningâ€ by Jenny Joseph of England, she was inspired. The poem describes an older woman in purple clothing with a red hat.
â€œWhen I am an old woman, I shall wear purple with a red hat which doesnâ€™t go and doesnâ€™t suit me,â€ the poem reads.
In 1997, Cooper gave her friend a red fedora and a copy of the poem. Her friend enjoyed it so much that the trend continued from one friend to another.
Before they knew it, they realized they were becoming a â€œRed Hat Society,â€ and decided to go out in public sporting their new found look.
The group was formed April 1998 when they gathered for tea. Their purple dresses did not match with their red hats.
Word spread quickly about the Red Hat Society after a story appeared in Romantic Homes in July 2000.
Hatquarters, the hub of the Red Hat Society, registers about 500 new chapters and renews about 200 chapters every week.
Interested in joining?
Contact the Denver chapterâ€™s Queen Mother, Sherry, at 704-820-2895.
For more information visit www.redhatsociety.com.
Sue Rogers of Denver made this sparkly hat for one of the members of the â€œRed Hat Mammas.â€ She has roughly six hats that she has made for herself. Diane Turbyfill / LTN Photo
by Amy Wadsworth