Just one rule
Tonganoxie’s chapter of Red Hat Society organized for fun
What's purple and red and likes to hit area cities for dining and shopping?
Once a month, the answer is: The Tonganoxie Red Heads.
The local official chapter of the Red Hat Society has taken to the streets monthly since Oct. 29. The local group, which consists of 20 area women, was the brainchild of Linwood resident JoAnn Brown.
"I just had read about it several places," Brown said. "A friend of mine in North Carolina started one and she said they had so much fun. That's why I though it would be fun to have one in Tonganoxie."
Brown wanted a local chapter, but the want, for some time, was just discussion until Jean Walker and Wanda Williams got the ball rolling.
"I had been going to do it and going to do it," Brown said. "Finally Jean and Wanda said 'this is when we're going to have a meeting, so be there."
Now Brown is the queen mother for the Tonganoxie affiliated chapter of the national Red Hat Society that also includes residents from Basehor and McLouth.
So what do her duties entail?
"That just means I do nothing," Brown said. "I'm just the queen mother and they just look up to me I guess. There are no rules in this club except to have fun. That's the only rule."
But there is one requirement for joining the group that has become popular recently. Members must be women who are 50 years of age or older.
Women who are younger than 50 also can tag along, but instead of the required uniform of red hat and purple clothes, the under-50s must wear pink and lavender.
Each month, members gather and decide where in the area to have a meal. The excursion usually includes eating and shopping.
Member Cleta Henak, who is in charge of travel for the group, said Red Heads usually shop for more red and purple accessories. Henak also organizes travel packages for older citizens through First State Bank and Trust.
The group's first meeting was at Bichelmeyer's in Tonganoxie. The Red Heads also have eaten in other local communities such as McLouth and Leavenworth, but when the weather improves, Henak plans to venture farther from Tonganoxie.
Last Thursday the Red Heads gathered on Fourth Street before leaving for Leavenworth. With their distinctive look, the women discussed who would be car pooling. With a red boa, red hat, red gloves, red earrings, red shoes, purple coat and purple pants, Henak was ready for the trip.
"It's really getting to be quite a thing," Henak said. "It's something for older people to do. Everyone will come up to you and visit with you."
Finding the proper attire used to be a chore.
Brown said she spray-painted her first hat, but later found one that already was the required color.
Henak said they have become abundant.
"They're everywhere now," Henak said. "Even the Burlington Coat Outlet has a red hat."
Like any chapter, the group has officers.
Along with Brown, Crystal Bollet is in charge of Internet information, Esther Easton is sergeant of gloves, Susie Parmer is the anti-parlimantarian, Wanda Williams is hysterian and Jean Walker is vice-mother.
This summer, the group plans to be in the Leavenworth County Fair parade. On Thursday, Brown also suggested that the group enter a float in Tonganoxie's St. Patrick's Day Parade in March.
"We're going to have green," Brown said. "This next meeting we're going to get together and plan out exactly what we're going to do, but we'll have green.
"We may look like Christmas."
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