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Hats off to creations at retirement homes

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By Lisa King

Like a racehorse nearing the home stretch, the popularity of Kentucky Derby hats has gained a lot of momentum in Shelbyville this year, especially among retirement home residents.

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For the second year in row, female residents at two Shelbyville nursing homes have made their own hats and wore them to parties held Saturday at their facilities.

Darlene “Dee” Hedges, activities director at Amber Oaks, said the 25 women who participated there were so excited about their creations that she and volunteer Charlotte Pridmore helped them make, they could barely restrain themselves.

“We have been working on these hats for three weeks, and for the past week, they have been asking, ‘When can we wear our hats?’” she said with a laugh.

Dean Windsor, executive director of Amber Oaks, said he has never seen the residents have so much fun.

“It was a chance for them to showcase their talents in a way they could celebrate what Kentucky is famous for, horseracing,” he said.

Norma Jean Ashmore won first place, with a hat adorned with pink flowers; Della Wooten’s creation, sporting a 3-inch-tall horse, took second, and Elsie Ward’s hat decorated with flowers, lace and a pink bow came in third.

“It was a difficult decision; they were all lovely, and so creative,” said judge Shelly Goodwin, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce.

The Masonic Home’s “Derby Divas” also got into the spirit of hat mania, with a unique idea of making their hats out of old copies of The Sentinel-News.

Anne Kuhn, activities director, came up with the idea for the project last year, and for this year’s Derby even managed to persuade one of the male residents to join in.

Mike Cottrell took his place in the center of the group of about 35 women, wearing a black hat decorated with red roses as they gathered for a group photo on Friday.

“Doesn’t he just look so handsome,” Kuhn remarked, as all the ladies turned to look at Cottrell, who smiled shyly, blushing.