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Yarmouth Red Hatters marking 15 years

Looking through a photo album at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Yarmouth during an event celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Yarmouth Seaside Red Hatters (from left): Pauline Woodworth, Dorothy Vallillee, Iris Richards and Patricia Nicholson.
Looking through a photo album at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Yarmouth during an event celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Yarmouth Seaside Red Hatters (from left): Pauline Woodworth, Dorothy Vallillee, Iris Richards and Patricia Nicholson. - Eric Bourque

Group celebrates decade-and-a-half of fun and friendship

It was while watching The Price is Right that Dorothy Vallillee was inspired to establish a Yarmouth chapter of the Red Hatters. It was around Christmastime 2002 and, noticing some Red Hatters attending the popular TV game show, Vallillee said to her husband, Ron, “That is for me.”

She called her sister and a few friends to see if they were interested in forming a local group. A little later, on March 15, 2003, during an afternoon meeting at the former Colony restaurant, the Yarmouth Seaside Red Hatters were launched.

Over the past decade-and-a-half, the group has hosted or participated in a variety of events.

The Yarmouth group welcomed fellow Red Hatters for provincial conventions in 2005 (billed as a “spring fling”) and 2006 (“fall frolic”). Yarmouth hosted a provincial gathering in 2009 (“spring splash”) and another in 2011 (“A celebration by the sea”).

Vallillee has plenty of fond memories and she shared some of them as she reflected on the group’s history.

She recalled, for instance, the group’s entry in the 2004 Seafest parade.

“We laughed from one end of the town to the other and so did a lot of people on the sidewalk,” she said. “Dot Simpson and Patricia Nicholson donned swimsuits – I didn’t know of their plan – and stretched out on mats at the rear of the float ... We’ve entered a float a number of times and won a few awards for the most colourful or most humorous float.”

She remembers one time, early in the group’s history, when the late Leo Mooney, a well-known Yarmouth resident, spotted the group’s members.

“Leo was speechless when he saw us all in red hats,” Vallillee said. “Now Leo was not often speechless.”

Seafest, Canada Day celebrations and waterfront activities are just a few examples of things the Red Hatters have attended over the course of their 15-year history. There also were outings to various sites, along with out-of-town trips to visit fellow Red Hatters in other communities, including Cornwallis, Digby, Cape Sable Island, Greenwood and Kentville.

In 2013, to mark their 10th anniversary, the Yarmouth Red Hatters planted a tree in Sealed Landers Park in the town’s north end. “In June 2016 we returned there for a picnic to see how the tree was growing,” Vallillee said. “It’s still quite small. It takes a long time to grow a tree.”

When the Red Hat Society found it necessary to increase their membership fee, she said, many Red Hatters across the province opted to give up their memberships. The Yarmouth Red Hatters don’t get invited to many out-of-town events anymore, she said.

Saying she’s thankful to her fellow members for 15 years of fun and friendship, Vallillee said she hopes they can stay together and experience some more good times.

“We’ll call ourselves Retired Red Hatters,” she said.

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