The hat party prizes are a tradition like the hat party punch and rain on hat party night. There is a reason that prizes are given. I figure that if you go to the trouble of being creative, making a great hat and costume, and looking a lot silly, the least I can do is to offer a prize.

You may have heard that there has been some controversy about the selection of the awardees. All selections are made by the Hat Party Judging and Steering Committee (HPJ&SC) . A finer group of individuals, you will never meet in your lifetime. However, like referees and judges of the judicial ilk, these outstanding folks are subjected to monumental abuse. That abuse mostly comes from the whiners and moaners who feel they were slighted. Isn't it always like that?

Anyway, they select the prize recipients, but I make the prizes. About two months before the hat party, the process begins. I take my shopping cart and I visit some of Washington's finest establishments-Bruce's Variety Store; Frank's Garden Centre; and just about every Dollar Store east of the Pecos River. I am always on the look out for quality and savings (so I usually speak with Odonna Matthews [Whoever heard of the name Odonna?- Richie Valens not withstanding]). And I search up and down every aisle. What may look like a flower pot to you may be haberdashery to me. What may look like a fish bowl to you is a water sculpture to me. And what may look like schlock to you is radiance and beauty to me.

And towards the end of the evening, as unaccustomed as I am, to public speaking, I gather my courage to face the night. And it is at this moment, when others see the radiance and beauty of the hatparty prizes as well.