As the guests of her annual hat party walk through the doors of The Stockade Inn, 94-year-old Schenectady socialite Lois Troup smiles and greets them without hesitation.
Troup has held a luncheon for the past 14 years to celebrate her longtime love of hats with various friends and family.
“As a little girl, I’d go with my mother and my grandmother to a millinery store in Bellevue,” Troup said. “And I’d say to my mother, ‘Mom when I grow up I want to make hats,’ but it didn’t turn out that way.”
She instead became a school principal in the Schalmont Central School District and had two sons, but Troup’s admiration of headwear was always in the back of her mind. “Then I retired and I said ‘Now’s my chance to play around with hats.’ So I started this group.”
Troup enforces only one rule at the event: No red hats. She wants to distinguish her group of hat-wearers from the Red Hat Society.
“There were seven ladies I invited out to lunch the first time and I said ‘You’ve got to wear a hat,’ ” Troup recalled. “Well they didn’t like the idea of wearing a hat.”
Fourteen years later, the attendees showed no aversion, and hats ranged from simple woven fedoras to sun hats decorated with assorted cat toys.
“We’re not only a diversified group of hats, but also a diversified group of people,” said Troup’s daughter-in-law, Patty Bayer Troup.
Friends and friends of friends are welcome to join in on the festivities, and the annual gathering has grown to host around 50 people.
Scotia residents Kathy Barrans and Susan Cotton attended the party this year for the first time. “I’m excited to see what happens,” Barrans said. “To see her center stage. She’s such a personality.”
Sarah Fleming, a friend of Troup’s since third grade, finds “the association with the people, and the camaraderie that we have” to be the best part of the afternoon’s activities.
The party also features entertainment such as speakers and musical performers. This year an old-fashioned quartet of singers performed for guests.
“My favorite one was when we had an Elvis Presley impersonator,” Fleming said. “He was wonderful.”
Troup’s deep-rooted love for the annual event was as visible in her words as it was in her teal blue hat adorned with white flowers and sparkly tulle.
“She’s always been passionate about hats,” said Bayer Troup. “It gives her joy to look around the table and see everyone wearing hats.”
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