Georgia Wingate Thompson, Kleberg County Correspondent

KINGSVILLE - Like so many brightly colored butterflies, a brightly attired purple and red hatted variety flitted into downtown Kingsville for shopping and luncheon at the local tearoom on Tuesday.

The mid-morning gathering of Red Hat ladies were sighted on Kleberg Avenue awaiting the arrival of the entire group whose members are from Sandia, Alice and Orange Grove. They were in Kingsville for the day to shop, eat lunch and then "head back to our retired lives," as one put it.

The group of women, all 50 or older, (a criteria for being a member of the Red Hat Society) represented several segments of the retired set: teachers, (one was giddy over having just retired the day before), a nurse, legal secretary, branch office manager and a cosmetician.

In fact, one member, Hope Pennington, was proudly celebrating her 79th birthday this day with her sisters of the purple cloth.

"Our objective is to have fun," said Barbara Allen, Queen Mom in Red Hat Society terms, or president of the group. "We meet once a month. We shop, we eat and we have a good time."

She said the women were once part of another Red Hat Society, but about three years ago decided to form their own bunch and call themselves the Social Butterflies

Last month, the ladies went to the beach attired in T-shirts that were painted with a well-endowed bikini body the Queen Mom had ordered for the members.

"It had a little butterfly tattooed on it," Allen snickered. "We never did get to the beach to find shells, but we had a good time shopping."

She was quick to pull out a photo album of several members sporting their T-shirts painted with purple (of course) bikinis while standing in front of a giant shell at one of Padre Island beach stores, the closest the group got to anything resembling a shell.

Allen said the group would be marching in the JWC fair parade in Alice this fall, and no doubt sporting new purple outfits accented with red (the more outrageous the better) - make that red gloves, red shoes, red purses, red earrings, red bracelets, red capes and, of course, hats of all shapes and variety that may have been picked up in Kingsville.