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A sea of red hats at Metrotown next week

Santa won't be the only one donning a red hat and visiting Metropolis at Metrotown this month.
Red Hats Society parade
The red hats are coming!: Next week, members of two local Red Hats Society chapters will be meeting at Metropolis at Metrotown for a mall crawl and luncheon.

Santa won't be the only one donning a red hat and visiting Metropolis at Metrotown this month.

While Santa Claus arrives on today (Friday), members of local Red Hat Society chapters are converging on the shopping centre at Santa's Palace next Wednesday for a mall crawl before lunching at the firefighters' club.

Cheryl Hamilton, "queen" of a chapter in Vancouver, is helping organize the Burnaby event.

"Metrotown, we thought that would be a handy thing. They can just walk around, and we're just meeting at the Santa Claus booth," she said, adding indoor events are particularly good for some of the older members.

The shopping centre has said it will give the members tote bags and gift cards, she added.

Afterwards, the members can also meet at the Burnaby firefighters' club for lunch. There will be a raffle and a hat contest, according to Hamilton.

Hamilton started her chapter of the Red Hat Society after retiring from her administrative position in the insurance industry, she said.

"I just wanted to meet some people," she said. "I thought it would be fun. And you know, you wear your red hats and purple outfits, so I've got loads of red hats for every occasion and I have big tote containers of purple clothes."

Hamilton's chapter is in its 12th year, she said, and still has six original members.

Sue Ellen Cooper, "queen mother" of the Red Hats Society, started it 15 years ago after reading the poem Warning by Jenny Joseph, which described a woman in purple clothing and a red hat.

The focus of the society is to have fun while connecting with other like-minded women. Women over the age of 50 wear red hats and purple clothing to events, while women under 50 wear pink hats and lavender clothing.

But otherwise, each chapter decides how it will be run and what events to attend, according to Hamilton.

"We sometimes have a monthly lunch but we're so busy now that if we can make two events a month, we're doing quite well," she said of her chapter.

Hamilton's group travels everywhere from Campbell River, to lunch at the legislature in Victoria, all the way to a convention in Reno, Nevada, she said.

They have also visited the Burnaby Village Museum and recently came to the art gallery.

"Just a few weeks ago, we went to the Burnaby Art Gallery and saw the Dutch painters," she said, adding it was "very interesting."

Chapters also have members visit from other places. Hamilton's chapter has had society members come from Holland, Australia and Texas, she said.

Hamilton tries to keep things simple - each member pays their own costs for events, so there's no need to deal with money, and members plan events for their birthday months.

"Like for January, that lady is working on something that she likes to do," Hamilton explained.

Hamilton then contacts the other members and finds out who will be attending.

As for the Metrotown event, as of Wednesday between 62 and 65 members had RSVPd. But, Hamilton added, "Some just come."