Of the 25 Hat Ladies and 5 Hat Husbands who experienced HOWL #5, there were many highlights:  Seeing The Lion King,  Book of Mormon, Kinky Boots; being at Palm Court at the Plaza Hotel; looking out our Hotel window at Times Square; shopping at Bergdorf Goodman; attending the Matisse Cutout Show at the MOMA; participating in the Shabbat Service at the Central Synagogue (patterned after the one in Budapest, with Archie discovering one of the Rabbis was the grandson of her Rabbi back in Chicago); feeling relief we missed the snow that hit immediately after we left (and hasn't stopped); realizing weather would have canceled our trip entirely had the timing being otherwise; landing safely home with all our luggage arriving, too.

One highlight, in particular, deserves special mention:  Going to Ground Zero.  As Renee wrote, "The emotions that it stirred in me were great, the feeling of patriotism pure, and the timing, in the scheme of recent world events, impeccable." It is a visit every American should make, should they find themselves in New York.

Then there was The Luncheon itself.  Whether we were veterans of all five or attended one, two, three, or four, there was consensus: "This year's Luncheon was the best ever:"  

"The energy, camaraderie, and electricity generated were outstanding." (Renee)

"Even though I was unable to participate in other activities, being there for the Luncheon made it all worth going to NYC!!!  The energy in the room filled with all those great and dedicated women was truly amazing!  What an honor! Words cannot express my gratitude for the efforts that went into planning this incredible event! (...and no snow!!!) (Anna)

There were special moments, such as Mimi "...meeting the Ambassador of Italy and 'stepping' in to walk her back to her Office when her assistant didn't show up; the Ambassador from Romania, Simona, taking Archie back to the U.N. General Assembly to witness the inaugural Conference to combat the rise of Anti-Semitism.

All loved Simona's enthusiasm and passion for the Event and having a chance to mingle with "interesting and accomplished" Ladies.

But what sent this HOWL into the stratosphere was knowing our guests felt as we did.  These "interesting and accomplished Ladies" were just like us:  They loved getting together for fun.  They loved getting dressed up.  They loved having a "mini vacation."  They loved recognizing us from HOWL's past, as we did them.  They hugged us, whether we had met or not. They stood on the small stage and proudly proclaimed, "This is my xxxx HOWL."  One said it was the best Event of the year.  Another said her predecessor told her not to miss it. They exited the elevator with the weight of the world on their capable shoulders; they left with a Plaza Suite hat on their head and a smile on their face. 

Our belief that hats are magical played out on the world stage of The Permanent Mission of Romania.  If there were any doubts that hats bring together people of all ages, backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, even centuries, they were completely dispelled that glorious afternoon.  All four Luncheons had been building up to this moment. The pinnacle  was reached on January 22, 2015.  As Kathy wrote, "It was an out of the Hat World experience."

There was another milestone reached that afternoon: Our guests realized Charleston, South Carolina wasn't just another City.  Some have been here and shared their enthusiasm; others now expressed interest in visiting.  It is possible the seeds of HOWL #6 were our pluff mud.  The opportunity may come to present Southern hospitality at its finest.

Come what may, there was still another highlight among the highlights of the Luncheon: As Nina, a new hatsister eloquently observed:  It wasn't merely a chance to mingle with THEIR interesting and accomplished Ladies ; it was a chance to mingle with OUR OWN:  "Priscilla, who showed strength and courage of women, starting as she did at 19 years of age in the Civil Rights Movement; Susie, who cares for an ill husband and still has a positive attitude toward the world and courage to come on the trip; Jeanie who wrote a Book about her heritage on Sullivan's Island.  Our Ladies are powerful and accomplished, too.  The Luncheon celebrates women's ability to connect with one another, and the strength in coming together that doing so can be fun and productive."

Ultimately that's what our monthly and volunteerism is all about.  Ultimately that's what The Hat Ladies are all about.

Many pictures are now posted from The Hats of The World Luncheon.  If I could only post two, it would be these two.  Linda's room mates had to leave a day early.  She knew where to hang her hat.  (YES, those ARE night caps on our heads). 

To enjoy the Reflections posted by Ambassador Simona, please go to her Facebook Page: