Linda “Too Too” Theriot gathered ‘Red Hatters’ from across the region to take a photo at Bayou Delight Restaurant in Houma. The energy from the ladies was high since it has been a while since they were all able to meet. The group meets for an activity and a dinner at a local food joint anywhere from the Western Louisiana border, up to Lake Charles, south to Houma, and east to the Mississippi border. Not only do they get together for the sisterhood, but they always discover local culture and love to give back economically to areas.
The Red Hat Society began in 1997 when an artist Sue Ellen Cooper from Fullerton, California, purchased an old red fedora from a thrift store while on a trip to Tuscan, Arizona. Cooper was inspired by a Jenny Joseph poem, “Warning,” for a birthday gift for a friend. The poem begins, “ When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple, with a red hat which doesn’t go and doesn’t suit me.” Cooper used the poem to encourage her friend to “grow older in a playful manner,” and she gave the red hat to her friend. This tradition was repeated several times, which led to several women gathering for tea parties wearing purple. After the story of the society got picked up by a journalist, Cooper received many emails inquiring about help for starting chapters. She had to establish a “Hatquarters” to handle the emails and now serves as the “Exalted Queen Mother.” She has since written two best-selling books. From 1997 to now, the society grew from a group of friends to now over 25,000 members.
Locally, Theriot said she would have never met and been friends with the people closest to her if it wasn’t for the society. The Houma area has several chapters, and the leaders of the chapters are called “Queen.”
Theriot joined the sisterhood 18 years ago and has since then won the “Hatter of the Year” award. She is the “Queen” of a chapter called “Red Hat Jambalaya Mamas.” Chapters tend to meet once a month; however, Theriot said some women wanted to meet up and do more. That’s when she organized “Gators on the Move.” The Gators on the Move consists of regional-wide hatters who travel to an area to take part in local activity and dine at a local restaurant. The most recent was when the ladies went on a swamp tour at Cajun Tours & Cruises Inc in Houma followed by a lunch at The Bayou Delight. It’s customary for the lunches to also feature “favors” being handed out, which is like an appreciation of sisterhood. At this certain lunch, the group paid respects and homage to Barbra Boudreaux. She was an 82-year-old nurse who had a stroke while at work. Boudreaux had her own chapter; however, she attended all the events with Theriot. The two became close friends, which showcases how the society creates lifelong friendships.
“It has helped a lot of women out there and live a life that we wouldn’t have done and met people from all over the world,” Theriot said. She said it is open to all ages and welcomes new members with open arms. “It’s like you meet as a stranger and leave as a friend. It’s amazing.”
Theriot said if anyone is interested in learning more about the society and wants to join in on the sisterhood, to contact her directly at (985) 855-8503 or visit www.redhatsociety.com.