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Red Hat Society provides fun for women of all ages

The ladies of the Red Hat Society rarely go unnoticed. With their bright red hats, striking purple outfits and exciting personalities, the women of the well-known international organization know how to have fun far beyond their years.

RHS was founded in 1998, and is a society of women that connects, supports and encourages one another in pursuit of fun, freedom, friendship, fulfillment and fitness while supporting members in the quest to get the most out of life. Originally created for women age 50 and beyond, the organization is now open to women of all ages.

Women in RHS are distinguished by the signature red hat and purple clothing. The uniform is inspired by RHS founder Sue Ellen Cooper, who gave several friends red hats for their birthday as an ode to Jenny Joseph’s poem, “Warning,” which reads “When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple, with a red hat which doesn’t go and doesn’t suit me.” On April 25, 1998, several of her friends bought purple outfits to go with their hats and held a tea party. The society was born.

Today, there are 20,000 RHS chapters in the United States and 16 here in the 209, one of which is the Modesto Senior Citizens Center’s Chapter, the Scarlet Sparklers.

“When you notice a Red Hat group, they’re loud and they laugh a lot,” said Shannon Parker, Queen of the Scarlet Sparklers. “Our main focus is to get together on a monthly basis and have fun.”

As Queen, it’s Parker’s duty to meet with other Queens in the area quarterly. At meetings, each Queen shares any upcoming activities her chapter has planned.

“We’re able to connect with other chapters when they have events,” said Parker. “No matter what chapter you’re in, it’s like a sisterhood.”

On the fourth Monday of each month, the Scarlet Sparklers get together for lunch. The group also goes on frequent outings together, which can include anything from taking the Amtrak train up to Old Sacramento for the day, or spending a relaxing day being pampered with pedicures.

“If you’re new to the area it’s a great way to meet new friends,” said Parker. “And, I almost see being involved with the Red Hat Society as an opportunity for grownups to play dress up.”

Parker started the Scarlet Sparklers in 2008, and since she is under 50, she dons a pink hat and lavender outfit instead of the classic red and purple, which is reserved for members over the age of 50.
“Who doesn’t love to play dress up?” she asked. “It’s my favorite part.”

Currently, the Scarlet Sparklers are accepting new members to join their group of 35. Those interested in joining the Scarlet Sparklers may contact Parker at 209-341-2974 or visit the official website,

, to find a nearby chapter.