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Red Hat splendor
Loving Life: Gerri "Jazzy" Coachman, who heads two Red Hat Society chapters dons the signature red and purple colors.

Members of the Red Hat Society are hard to miss. It’s not because they wear their signature colors — red and purple — everywhere they go. It’s not even because they don red hats from large to small. It’s because today, more than 250 ladies from the Red Hat Society will be at the Mall at Stonecrest to celebrate the organization’s 11th anniversary.

"We’re expecting ladies from different chapters around metro Atlanta," said Gerri "Jazzy" Coachman, one of the event organizers. "There will be free gift bags and door prizes, and we’re having a scavenger hunt."

Coachman, who heads the Jazzy Touch of Class and Jazzy Divas in Red chapters of the Red Hat Society, planned the event with Carole Copeland, who heads the Ebony Pearls Chapter. Together they wanted to bring together different Atlanta chapters for a day of fun and fellowship.

"It’s a chance to meet people and you get a chance to show off your red hat and purple outfit," said Coachman. "It’s a day of fun and a chance to share with other red hats what your
chapter is doing."

Red Hat day at the mall includes breakfast for the red hatters, a day of shopping and a hat parade where the member of the Red Hat Society with the best red hat will walk away with $500. The activities are set to began
at 9:30 a.m.

Started in 1998 by Sue Ellen Cooper, the Red Hat Society is a network of women across the country who committed to enjoying life to the fullest. The organization grew out of a birthday traditional created by Cooper. While shopping for a birthday present for her friend, she stumbled on a red hat at a thrift store. A few years later, she found a poem by Jenny Joseph that starts out, "when I am an old woman I shall wear purple with a red hat which doesn't go." Cooper’s birthday gift to her group of friends became a copy of the poem and
the red hat.

Now, the organization boasts 30,000 chapters around the country, with more than 1,500
in Georgia.

While the organization is geared to women over 50, younger women — the pink hatters —are also a part of the group.

"My granddaughter is a pink hatter and she’s 16,"
Coachman said.

Membership is open to anyone and anyone can start a chapter. Coachman started the Jazzy Touch of Class chapter at the Lou Walker Senior Center in DeKalb County a little more than
two years ago.

"I wanted to do something to get out of the house. I went online and read up on the organization, and I liked what they were about. So I decided to start a chapter," said Coachman.

The Jazzy Touch of Class Chapter, which boast more than 150 members, caters to women who are retired. Coachman also leads a second chapter, Jazzy Divas in Red, which is geared to women who work during the day.

"We’ve raised our kids, taken care of our husbands, and now it’s time for us to focus on ourselves," said Coachman. "We just have fun. We travel, we have teas, and
we always dress in our red hats."