Welcome To Our 13th Annual Red Hat Luncheon
The Red Hat Society is a well known phenomenom, chronicled in the media throughout the past 18 years. Inspired by the poem "Warning" by Jenny Joseph, which depicts an older woman wearing purple, with a red hat as an expression of independence and an "attitude", Sue Ellen Cooper formed a group of women over 50 who decided to meet middle age with "verve and humor". The idea has taken root, with Red Hat Societies springing up in various places throughout the country and the world. Red Hat members wear full regalia the includes the distinctive red hats and purple outfits. If you are under 50 years of age you can still attend wearing pink hats and lavender outfits.
Presbyterian Senior Living (PSL) has encouraged the development of Red Hat Chapters at each of our communities as another way to encourage fun and fellowship amongst residents and staff. Each year we have seen the event grow and glow with the smiles and laughter of all who attend.
As part of this effort, Presbyterian Senior Living hosted its' first Red Hat event on May 19, 2004 at Camp Hill Presbyterian Church in PA in their basement social hall. What started as a relatively small gathering turned out to be a great event, attracting more than 150 residents from 10 PSL locations. This year's event on May 17th held at the Radisson Penn Harris Hotel in Camp Hill, PA, is hosting approximately 300 residents and guests from 21 PSL Communities! The luncheon ballroom is visually a beautiful sea of purple and red. The event draws residents from all levels of care with staff on hand to assist those with needs.
Laurel Spagnolo, PSL's Vice President of Mission Support, is the official PSL Red Hat Queen. She presides over the luncheon and introduces various performances that have graced the stage from everything including local high school jazz bands, our own PSL staff musical performances and skits, a variety of resident performances including a resident kazoo band as well as professional musicians and speakers. Spagnolo says, "This event gives us the opportunity to greet and treat ladies from many of our communities. It is an opportunity to celebrate aging through a socially enriching setting. Our hope is to create a culture that is life-affirming, satisfying and fun."
The event originally required that all of the women in attendance were to be served by only male servers from Presbyterian Senior Living management. PSL Trustees, Corporate Administrative Office staff, PSL Community Executive Directors and Management staff signed up and joined in on the fun to serve the ladies. Over the years the venues have changed, but of the things that have remained consistent is the all male wait staff service in white shirts, dark pants, red bowties and red cummerbunds. "We call them our Celebrity Servers," says Spagnolo. It has become a tradition that adds a little ritzy touch to the event.
"Warning" by Jenny Joseph
WHEN I AM AN OLD WOMAN I SHALL WEAR PURPLE
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
and I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings and make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people's gardens
and learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.
About Presbyterian Senior Living
Presbyterian Senior Living is a not-for-profit organization, fulfilling its charitable purpose and mission by providing high quality retirement choices, healthcare services and affordable residential living options for people 55 and older for more than 85 years. Headquartered in Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, Presbyterian Senior Living provides services to approximately 6,000 seniors in 30 locations in the mid-Atlantic region of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio and Delaware.