Seeing Red

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:49

    Red Hatters are entrepreneurs, mothers and grandmothers, nurses, businesswomen, name it. And they have only three rules: Members must be at least 50 years old, they must wear red hats and purple accessories, and above all, they are commanded to have fun. A national phenomenon, Red Hat chapters have been sprouting locally like mushrooms over the past two years. Saturday, more than 300 members from chapters all over North Jersey descended in a red tide on Crystal Springs Country Club for no reason other than to celebrate their redness. Queens Jane Hoffman, Barbara Laufnik, and Marlene Clements organized the festival, attended by 26 other "Queens" and their courts representing chapters with such names as the Crimson Goddesses, the Red Hot Hatters, the Red Hot Flashes, and the Red Hot Chicks. Hoffman, a resident of Highland Lakes for 30 years, is a registered nurse and Health Care Coordinator at the County College of Morris. The Highland Hatters are 25 strong, and she says that they take having fun seriously. Laufnick bred and showed Persian and exotic cats before retiring. Her hobbies include designing Web sites and doing artwork as an outlet for expression. Her chapter, called the ModHatters, has 18 "royal" members but will likely increase to 25 shortly. They are the party planners for the local Red Hatters, organizing bus trips, luncheons, and a July 23 rock ‘n roll concert at McNeice Auditorium featuring the Party Dolls. Clements is now an entrepreneur after a 30-year career in Bergen County Superior Court as a division manager. The owner of a copier business, she is an avid gardener and involved in the Harvest House program in Sussex. Her chapter has 22 members and has a waiting list of eight. Her motto is "Don't postpone joy or is too short!" Vendors came from as far away as Florida to join in the festival. They displayed everything from "traditional" hats and boas to shoes and socks, purses and wallets - all in either red or purple. The dining room was a sea of red and purple, with only big white smiles separating the tones of color. The "organization," for want of a better word, is now allowing women under 50 to join in the fun as a sort of junior auxiliary. Called the Pink Hatters, they gained their status by whining to their mothers and older friends to let them in on the fun.