Way back before the Roaring ’20s, a man named Walter King returned home to Hampton Bays to take care of his ailing mother. He was educated in commercial art and window dressing at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and he knew a thing or two about style.
His father, Elisha King, owned a general store in Hampton Bays, but after a fire around 1910 partially demolished the store, the younger Mr. King and his wife, Helen, began using the fabric that survived the fire in the store to make hats. They rebuilt and reopened their family store as a hat shop around 1920, adding on a workshop that they purchased as surplus from Camp Upton, where it had served as the camp theater.
Word of their fine hats spread throughout the Hamptons to Manhattan, and stars of the stage and bluebloods from throughout the Northeast began frequenting their shop, looking for the latest in fashion.
Their shop, the Lyzon Hat Shop, still stands on Montauk Highway in Hampton Bays, though it is now across the street from its original location, on the grounds of the Hampton Bays Historical Society.
This Saturday, the historical society is celebrating the Kings’ gifts to Hampton Bays with an Easter Bonnet Parade down Montauk Highway in honor of the Lyzon Hat Shop, which is currently being renovated by the historical society with the help of Southampton Town.
The parade will kick off at noon on Saturday, March 26 at the neighboring Prosper King House at 116 West Montauk Highway.
Participants of all ages are encouraged to don their favorite hat, handmade or otherwise, and join the historical society for a stroll down the sidewalks of Main Street.
After the stroll, the historical society will provide light refreshment while attendees view their Lyzon Hat display. For more information, call 631.728.0887.
If you can’t make it to the parade, the historical society is encouraging members of the community to take a photo of yourself, your family, friends and neighbors or co-workers in a fancy hat in front of a local landmark and post it on their Facebook page.
A grand opening for the Lyzon Hat Shop is planned for this summer.