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WATCH: Minnesota club races walking aids in show of solidarity

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Members of the Red Hat Societea in Red Wing pose for a photo Friday, July 29, 2016, in Bay Point Park. (photo by Maureen McMullen)2 / 2

RED WING — Members of the Red Hat Societea lined up a vibrant team of decorated walkers for a race Friday, July 29 — an event they dubbed “NASwalker.”

The group comprises women over the age of 50.

“Our purpose is to have no purpose,” said Societea head Bonnie Tracy. “There are no rules, we feel like we’ve lived by the rules long enough. We love to break the rules. We even know how to spit.”

True to the spirit of rule-breaking, the group is recognizable for purple garb topped with a clashing red hat. 

Members regularly meet for outings to area restaurants and trips to the arboretum, to name a few.

Tracy said their activities and socializations emphasize the idea that there’s plenty for people to look forward to as they age.

“We don’t have to put out a good image, we can be who we were meant to be,” Tracy said. “My philosophy has always been life begins at 50 and I think we should never lose sight of that. People think 50’s old, and it’s not.”

The group met Thursday, July 28, to deck the walkers with ribbons, streamers, beads, pinwheels and personal touches such as dreamcatchers and racing numbers. 

Societea member Darlene Hudson said she participated in the race in solidarity with friends and members who have to use walkers.

“We don’t want to make fun of people with walkers, because a lot of our friends use walkers,” she said. “But you’ve got to have fun.”

Though not all Societea members use walkers, Tracy said the event aimed to include members who use walkers every day.

“Walkers don’t stop you,” she said. “Getting old is not all that bad, you can still have fun, you can still make up silly stuff, you can act sillier than you ever have, because no one cares.”

“Let alone you,” added Societea member Bunny Petersen.

Although orders from Petersen’s physical therapist kept her out of Friday’s race, she joined the group for refreshments and decoration festivities the day before. 

“I think it’s good for the community,” she said of such events. “It shows that just because you’re a senior or older person, you’re not stuck in some facility or never see the outside. It shows that you can still be a good community spirit.”