News: Neillsville - Purple Passion Patooties 20th Anniv. (2022)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

Surnames: Cullen, Swenson, Marden, Quicker, Steuber, Mankowski, Tuft, Hemmersbach

----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 10/12/2022

Purple Passion Patooties Celebrate 20th Anniversary (2022)

The Purple Passion Patooties got their glam on as they celebrated the 20th anniversary of their group last week with a “Roaring Twenties” themed luncheon, complete with flapper dresses, feathers and pearls. The event took place at the Clark Cultural Art Center in Neillsville.

Valorie Brecht/Clark County Press

“We do not stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing!”

That is the motto of the Red Hat Society, and much fun has been had over the 20 years of one local chapter’s existence.

Open to any women 50 an older, the group began in Hatfield in 2002 when a group of three ladies went out to lunch all wearing red hats. They decided to continue meeting regularly to enjoy each other’s company, and call themselves the “Purple Passion Patooties” (PPP), as the dress code for the Red Hat Society is a purple outfit accompanied by a red hat.

The PPP chapter was officially formed Oct. 28, 2002. Officers were Queen Diane Cullen and Vice Queen Fern Swenson. There were approximately 27 members.

In 2007, Cullen passed away from cancer. Before she passed away, she asked Jana Lee Marden of Neillsville to be the next queen. Marden agreed and remains queen to this day. Swenson has continued as vice queen. Other current officers include Secretary Judy Quicker and treasurer Dee Steuber. The group is 54 members strong, including women from Hatfield, the Black River Falls area, Neillsville and the Mead Lake/Rock Dam area.

The group meets for a meal on the first Wednesday of each month, with various members taking turns picking the restaurant and making reservations. They always try to book a guest speaker. One time the speaker was the director of the Aging and Disability Resource Center, and members were asked to bring a food item to donate to those who need it. Another time a hospital worker came in for Health Week. Another time, an employee of the Clark County Humane Society spoke, and members brought an item such as cat food for the pets at the shelter. Other speakers have included Neillsville Police Chief Jim Mankowski when he joined the department and a local business representative.

In addition, the PPP have attended many interesting events over the years. They went to themed events in Eau Claire, meeting with other Red Hat groups in central Wisconsin. They traveled to Lambeau Field and Museum for a tour of the facility, traveled by Rock ‘N Roll Limos to Sommerset and had a riverboat luncheon on the Mississippi, and traveled by bus to many Broadway plays. They also had the opportunity to visit “Norskedalen” (the Norwegian Valley) in Coon Valley, as well as enjoyed many summer picnics at Pat Struble’s cabin on Lake Arbutus, along with pontoon rides.

“We cannot forget the High Tea Luncheons we enjoyed at Tuft’s Mansion and at the lovely home of Steve and Carol Hemersbach,” wrote Marden in a summary of the club’s activities.

The group has also toured cheese factories and a cranberry marsh, as well as the Historical Dells Mill and Museum in Augusta.

“Last but not least, is the great participation we have by being a part of the Neillsville Heritage Days parade. We have fun riding in the beautiful convertibles and tossing purple and red beads. We always look forward to an interesting and fun time,” wrote Marden.

The group has also made it a point to give back to the community. They make a donation to local domestic violence shelters and local charity organizations at the end of each year. Some of the members have rung bells for the Salvation Army. The members also bring gifts for children each year for the Christmas Angel Project in Black River Falls, Greenwood and Neillsville.

“Our purpose is to have fun, don’t grow old and do things for the community as well,” Marden summed it up.

The PPP met for a “Roaring Twenties” themed 20th anniversary luncheon Oct. 5 at the Clark Cultural Art Center in Neillsville. Members enjoyed a social hour followed by a meal of Waldorf salad, Parmesan pork roast, parsley buttered potatoes, roasted vegetables, a whole wheat honey roll and pineapple upside-down cake, with coffee and lemon water to drink.

Members of the local chapter of the Red Hat Society mingle at one of the finely decorated tables for their 20th anniversary luncheon Oct. 5.

Valorie Brecht/Clark County Press

Anyone interested in learning more about the PPP may contact Marden at 715-743-4440.
Editor Valorie Brecht contributed to this article.




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