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Red Hat Society shows there is fun after 50

ALTONA It seems there isnt any occasion that doesnt warrant the wearing of a red hat. At least, there isnt if youre a member of the Red Hat Society. Last week found the ladies of the Altona-based Jackpine Rockettes chapter of the organization in their sportiest finery, ready for a day of bowling. I havent bowled in years, member Janet Coryea said with a laugh. She was sporting a glittering purple chapeau in recognition of her February birthday. According to Queen Mother Marie Boulrice, the group first formed in April 2006. Each month, the women take turns planning an outing followed by lunch. Past events have included shopping excursions, luncheons, and a Ladies Night Out event at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh even line dancing lessons. Since the group has no bylaws and no rules, nothing is off limits. On second thought, there is one very important rule: to be a full-fledged member of the Red Hat Society and wear the full regalia red hat and purple dress you must be older than 50. Younger women can also be members or pink hatters, but they must wait until that all important birthday to don the red hat. What red hats they are! Feathered and floppy, or sequined and silly, the guide seems to be the gaudier the better. Most of the ladies confessed to having several hats for different occasions. Regardless of what the group is doing, the most important things are the friendships the women have formed. If somebody needs something, you dont mind asking, explained Mrs. Boulrice. Youve gotten so close. Sheelagh Philliphs of Hemmingford agreed. She joined the group two years ago when she saw an ad looking for members in a local newspaper. I wanted to get out and meet people, she said. My husband died suddenly in September and they have been a tremendous support. As the bowling and laughing continued, Phyllis Parker stood by to record gutter balls. Later at lunch, trophies were awarded for the highest score, the lowest score and most gutter balls. So far, Emilie is the best gutter ball person there is, Ms. Parker said jokingly about one member, as someone rang a cowbell. I brought the bells to ring for strikes, Mrs. Boulrice grinned, but we werent getting any, so we started to ring for gutter balls. Everybody should have that one day a month to just be silly, claimed Arlene Tower, a Canadian transplant to the group. This is where the girls let their hair down no one takes it too seriously, added Mrs. Boulerice. The Red Hat Society is an international organization or dis-organization, as they refer to themselves dedicated to fun. In recognition of all the duties and responsibilities women have on their plates, a day with the Red Hatters is a day away from those cares. Since it first started in 1998, the society has swollen to 40,000 chapters in 30 countries, including more than a dozen in the North Country. The Jackpine Rockettes are currently accepting new members. For more information, contact Marie Boulrice at 236-7289.

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