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Charlestown girls just want to have fun

Good times rule the day at Red Hat get-togethers

Created date

January 24th, 2012

It s the fourth Thursday of the month, and Pat Cashman is putting on her favorite crimson-colored hat adorned with feathers. She s not worried if pairing the hat with a purple jacket looks the least bit odd or outrageous because she knows once she boards the shuttle bus headed for tea at The Inn in Buckeystown, Md., she ll be in good company. If I m going to wear a hat, it s going to be elaborate, says Pat, Queen Mother of Charlestown s chapter of the Red Hat Society. Seven years ago, Pat, a New York City native, moved to Charlestown, an Erickson Living community in Catonsville, Md. There she attended her first Red Hat Society get-together and joined one of America s fastest-growing social organizations, with 351 chapters in Maryland alone. I live alone, and there are a lot of women out there who are in the same boat as me, says Pat. This gives me the opportunity to get together with friends each month, have lunch, and share some laughs. Inspired by Warning, a poem by Jenny Joseph, which depicts an older woman wearing a red hat and purple clothing, Sue Ellen Cooper of Fullerton, Calif., informally founded the first Red Hat Society in 1998 with 18 of her friends. Since then their motto of fun, friendship, freedom, fulfillment, and fitness has been spreading across the country like wildfire with women age 50 and above. Today there are an estimated 1.5 million members in more than 40,000 chapters in all 50 U.S. states and 25 other countries. According to the society s website,, the phenomenon is now often referred to as the greatest women s dis-organization.

A place to hang your hat

The great thing about this group is there s no pressure. All you need to join is a red hat, purple outfit, and the desire to have fun, says Pat. I try to keep things informal. Each month I contact our members to alert them of where our next get-together will be and if they can make it great, if not, I ll try you again next time. Centrally located just off the Baltimore beltway and a stone s throw from I-95, Charlestown s Red Hatters have an unlimited selection of restaurants and tea rooms from which to choose for their get-togethers. Most of the women in Pat s group use Charlestown s transportation to easily reach destinations like Toby s Dinner Theater, in Columbia, and Tea on the Tiber, in Ellicott City. It s wonderful; I love it! says June Dugan, who joined the group soon after she moved to Charlestown seven years ago. Over the years I ve acquired a number of red hats I like to wear. I save the straw hats for summer and normally wear my felt ones in the winter. Hilda Golen, a Red Hat Society member for eight years, says she never worries what people think when they go out dressed in their red hats and purple attire; she just has fun with it. I think most people are aware of the Red Hat groups, so we really don t get too many strange looks when we re out together, says Hilda. We re just out to enjoy good food and great company. For Pat, being a member of the Red Hat Society is more than just going out to lunch once a month; it s about forming friendships and meeting new people who share the same interests. If I was still living in New York City, I would never have had the opportunity to be part of a group like this, says Pat. Here all I have to do is open my door and I can meet people. And everyone is so polite. After a while it rubs off on you, and you don t have to work at being polite or friendly; it just comes naturally. It s really a great way to go through life.