Tuesday, Oct 29 2013 06:00 AM

Red Hat ladies celebrate 10 years in Tehachapi

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Photos by Emily BrunettFive ladies of the Tehachapi “Aga Uka” chapter of the Red Hat Society pose outside the Beekay Theatre before receiving a certificate of recognition from Mayor Phil Smith at the City Council meeting on Oct. 7. The ladies celebrated their chapter’s 10th birthday in October. Emily Brunett / Tehachapi News

Dressed in their trademark purple and red garb, five ladies representing the Tehachapi chapter of the Red Hat Society accepted a certificate of recognition from Mayor Phil Smith in recognition of the chapter's 10th birthday at the Oct. 7 City Council meeting.

"We are the unorganized organization," Queen Maha said. She is otherwise known as Delores Barton, head of the Red Hat ladies in Tehachapi.

Each chapter adopts its own name, she explained. The local chapter is dubbed "Aga Uka," which is translated from the Kawaiisu language as "red hat."

As the "leader" of the women's group, the queen ensures the dynamics stay light.

"We promote a good outlook on life," Barton said. "It gives us activities and events to look forward to...and creates special frienships."

Although the society was nationally established in 1998, the Tehachapi chapter has only existed 10 years. Barton said the basic goals have pretty much stayed the same through that time: to relax with other women over age 50 and have fun.

"The ladies go home and are refreshed," Barton said. "For some it's like an escape from reality."

Society members who wear red hats must be women older than 50, but younger women may join as "pink hatters." When they come of age, Barton said a ceremony of sorts is held.

"We have a special celebration that Hatquarters calls red-ucation," she said, referring to the headquarters of the society. "It's also called a depinkification, because we're getting rid of the pinks."

Donning a red hat for the first time is considered an important milestone in the society.

The mayor read from the certificate and said, "I, Philip Smith, mayor of the City of Tehachapi, do hereby recognize Oct. 28 as the Mad Hatter 10th birthday of the Red Hat Society Chapter Aga Uka in Tehachapi and encourage the community to observe this day with excitement, laughter and activities in support of this loving society."

Barton echoed Smith's summation.

"The idea is to be silly and have fun," she said.

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