The Post and Courier, The City Paper, Charleston Magazine, Gateway Magazine

October, 2003

All of the above newspapers and magazines highlighted The Hat Ladies Second Annual Artisans and Artists Show at the 201-year-old Charleston City Jail.  A portion of the proceeds benefited SOBA (The School of Building Arts, dedicated to teaching historic craftsmanship, now housed in the Jail) and The Hat Ladies Scholarship (bestowed to a graduating senior girl at Garrett Academy).

Moultrie News 

September 24, 2003

"A Work in Progress: Classes Teaches How to Put Your Life In Writing" by Sully Witte

"....Included in her own memoirs are the stories of the beginning of what is now a Charleston staple.  Burkel founded a group called The Hat Ladies more than two years ago.  Today it boast 500 women in the Charleston chapter and chapters in Phoenix, Arizona and Lycoming County Pennsylvania.

Experiences of volunteering and sharing have allowed Burkel to be exposed to cultural and civic activities that are worth noting.  Pages of her own memoirs are filled with experiences as Top Hat of The Hat Ladies. 'These two facets of my life are things that I do, by my definition, that are meaningful and inclusive of a strong spirit of giving to family, community or myself.' she said.

'I believe in the theory that one can be creative and productive their whole lives, even move on to more meaningful things at larger stages in their lives. I always hoped I could, too, and now I have created two things that have meaning and give me pleasure.  I've realized that with Memoirs Done Write and The Hat Ladies, I am bringing people together.  That means the world to me....' "

Post and Courier

April 24, 2003

"Sandpiper Residents Do Some Hat Tricks" by Michael Gartland

Henrietta Lunsford doesn't recall exactly when she stopped wearing hats.  She's certain they'd fallen out of fashion, though, and counted that as her main reason. "We used to wear them all the time," said Lunsford, who's 90 and lives at the Sandpiper Courtyard in Mount Pleasant.

On April 15, she reconnected with her past and donned a wide-brimmed straw hat with faux purple flowers to celebrate Easter.  Her turn-around and that of other Sandpiper Courtyard residents came as part of a hat fete organized by the activities director at the elder-care facility.

"The residents chose how they wanted their hats to look," said Mary Milutinovic, Sandpiper Courtyard activities director and member of The Hat Ladies of Charleston. "I just helped blue them together."

The hats came in all shapes and sizes--from wide-brimmed, flopper and red to black, stiff and narrow.  As some women at Sandpiper sipped tea, others compared hats or danced with members of the visiting Hat Ladies of Charleston.

Eloise Johnston, for one, didn't need to make herself a hat.  "I lived in the country because my Father was a farmer, and I'd always wear something like this to keep from getting sunburned," said Johnston.

Altogether, accounting for gathering materials and the work that went into putting them together, Milutinovic said it took about three weeks to make all of the other hats, most of which were decorated with flowers and ribbons.

"What is particularly gratifying in this case is that it makes them feel good," said Archie Burkel, the President of The Hat Ladies.Doris Rogers, a 93-year old Sandpiper resident, felt particularly good.  After being coaxed into dancing with one of The Hat Ladies, she took a breather to explain the origin of the straw hat perched atop her head.  "I don't even know what it looks like," she said, laughing.  Milutinovic, who had been passing by, then chimed in, "She got it from me."

Post and Courier

April 20, 2003

"Hat Ladies Add Colorful Touch to Overcast Day" by Adam Ferrell

Gretchen Barbatsis had planned to wear a white suit and a black hat Saturday, but when she saw gray skies through her window, she opted for more pizzazz.  In a royal-blue and deep-purple Nigerian gown and a matching blue crown, she joined about 200 people and several dogs, all in fine hats and accessories, at Washington Square for a strut down Broad and East Bay Streets as a nearby clock struck 10 bells.

Though a few dozen seersuckers and fedoras dotted the crowd, most of the women were outfitted in dresses, feathers, and bows in the second annual Hat Ladies of Charleston Promenade.

As the women sang their own version of "Easter Parade," they waved and smiled to folks on the sidewalks as they snapped photographs and shouted affirmations. That's The Hat Ladies--that's them," a woman yelled to her companions. "Only in Charleston," said another woman.

Nearly a mile and 20 minutes after police stopped traffic, the fancy mob piled into the pink Palmer House at 5 East Battery for cookies and lemonade.

"I truly think we are the only Promenade in the country," said Archie Burkel, the President and Founder of The Hat Ladies. "We are elegant, not clowns and bands, and we truly are strolling with dignity and grace that we think is befitting hats and befitting Charleston."

Though Saturday's event is the group's most visible outing, The Hat Ladies remain active in other ways all year long, she said.  Members volunteer with local historic preservation societies, the Symphony, Habitat for Humanity, and the Race for the Cure, assisted with Mrs. South Carolina Pageant, and worked with Garrett Academy.

The group was begun two years ago when four women who didn't really know one another got together to wear hats and have tea. Word spread almost overnight, and now membership is about 500. Members of The Hat Ladies get together once a month for a brunch and a "Hatpy hour," and they keep up with goings on through a website. Women in four other cities, including Phoenix, have started Hat Ladies chapters.

"It's bringing people together--we are all ages, all color hats, and all backgrounds," Burkel said.

Post and Courier

April 18, 2003

Good Morning Lowcountry

The Hat Ladies will be on parade Saturday in downtown Charleston. 

Eggs and Hats: ...A particularly American phenomenon, though, is the Easter parade, which started in Atlantic City, continued in towns where people strolled to church, and became fixed in the national imagination with Irving Berlin's popular song.

The Hat Ladies will sing that song tomorrow as they stroll east on Broad Street from Washington Park down East Battery. The Hat Ladies Easter Promenade is at 10 Saturday morning at our favorite price.  If you miss it, you might find it in Sunday's rotogravure.

Charleston Magazine
The Home and Garden Issue

March/April 2003

"Hats On!"

Charleston's Hat Ladies Hit the Streets - Eric Hann

What has of legs, countless hats, and moves through the streets of Charleston slower than a carriage full of tourists?  No, it's not a runaway garden club, but rather the Charleston Hat Ladies' Second Annual Easter Promenade

Last year's inaugural sashay drew more than 200 men, women, children, and pets--attired in their springtime finest--to show off their big, bright chapeaux and entertain happily perplexed onlookers during their celebratory stroll down Broad Street.  Hat Ladies founder Archie Burkel (the original Mad Hatter) was thrilled with the turnout and expects more for 2003.  Never one to think small, she has even extended an invite to fellow hat lover and Lowcountry admirer Oprah Winfrey.

Anyone may attend, but don't make the mistake of calling this an Easter parade.  Burkel stresses the word "promenade" when describing this sprightly affair.  "There are no clowns or floats here," she says, "just a group of fun-loving people donning their biggest and beset Easter bonnets."

So come Saturday, April 19, don't be spotted south of Broad unless you're topped with a lid that would have made the Queen Mum proud.  Hat Ladies and friends will gather promptly at noon in Washington Park on the corner of Broad and Meeting streets. 

Post and Courier

"High Style" by Mindy Spar

March 1, 2003

Two Photos, with the following captions:

The Hat Ladies of Charleston held their annual tea party at Charleston Place on February 1. Showing off their finery are Constance Lee (from left), Archie Burkel, and Pat Britt.

Elease Smith (from left), Joy Sturm, Martha Priester, and Marian Jones have a grand time at The Hat Ladies of Charleston tea party.

    Feathers in our Caps