A tradition was born in Toronto. Toward the end of the closing session of the 1980 Annual Conference, a bagpipe was suddenly heard in the distance. All heads turned to see a kilted piper enter the room followed closely by Morris "Mickey" Milner and Douglas Hobson, co-chairs of the conference. In his arms Mickey carried a black "pilgrim's" hat on a blue velvet cushion.
From that day on, The Hat has been passed from one conference chair to the next as a symbol of the transfer of authority, the continuity of our dedication to the advancement of rehabilitation through technology, and the total relief that comes with knowing that someone else has to begin worrying about the conference!
Designed and developed by engineers, and tested by clinicians, The Hat was accepted by consumers in a skit in San Diego. It has been delivered by a remotely controlled power wheelchair that wound its way slowly through the crowd in Washington. It has been raised by the applause of the audience in Houston. Canadian and American dollars encircled the band of The Hat in Ottawa. Guru Resnic, our great spiritual leader, delivered The Hat to a solemn march in Memphis. The beautiful and mysterious wild Loons of the north woods personally delivered The Hat in Minneapolis. The Hat appeared and disappeared like magic in San Jose. The Circus of the Sun delivered The Hat with a trick rope in Montreal, in high style to a jazz band in New Orleans, and by masked US Presidents to rap music in Washington. Through the Land-of-Oz, (in Kansas City, MO) The Hat was delivered to the "Chairman-in-Waiting" by Dr. Wizard. Back to its origin, The Hat was passed by Toronto's "dancing skyline". In Las Vegas, a plethora of Elvis' - young, old, male, and female - shimmied The Hat to the astonished chairpersons of the Nashville conference! In Nashville, their own "Kids on the Block" delighted the crowd as they passed The Hat to the Vancouver Chairpersons who roller-bladed through the ballroom to the ceremony. Our own Vancouver "Ms Mountie" with her personal dog sled delivered The Hat to "Brigham Young" (aka Martel Menlove). "Brigham Young" returned at the end of the Awards Ceremony in Salt Lake City, and passed The Hat on to Pittsburgh. Our Pittsburgh hosts scored with sports fans when The Hat was tossed, kicked, dunked, and finally passed to the Minneapolis team - all to the enthusiastic chants and drills of a full squad of cheerleaders. In Minneapolis, The Hat was passed along to Long Beach by a starlet from the Golden Age of Hollywood. And now, today, who knows how it will find its way into the waiting hands of next year's conference chairs.
The Hat, which is made of genuine beaver fur, is but another of the many contributions made to the field of rehabilitation engineering by Colin McLaurin. This contribution, unlike most of his others, was done impulsively. Walking into a Toronto haberdashery one day to buy some new silk handkerchiefs, Colin spotted The Hat and thought, "That'd be great!" Thus, starting a tradition that continues as a RESNA conference highlight!