Jim Abbott on Travel
Postcards from Florida
October 27, 2012
And you thought it was always Parrot Head time in Key West.
Since Jimmy Buffett first warbled about putting booze in his blender in the 1970s, Key West has continued to reap the PR benefits as the notion of margaritas on Duval Street has been transformed from mere diversion to signature image of the singer's worldwide business juggernaut. The flagship of Buffett's Margaritaville restaurant chain is in the Conch Republic.
Although there are plenty of tourists in garish cabana-wear year-round, the authentic fans — the true Parrot Heads — will flock in force to the annual Meeting of the Minds convention Thursday-Nov. 4 in Key West.
It's the 20th annual edition of the event, sponsored by Parrot Heads in Paradise Inc., the international organization of Parrot Head clubs.
There will be parties, charitable auctions, business meetings that cover topics such as club incorporation and tax issues — and plenty of musical guests. Robert Earl Keen, a veteran Texas songwriter in the Lyle Lovett mold, is the convention headliner.
I'd almost make the road trip to see that guy perform, but maybe not in the midst of a global Parrot Head convention. Depending on your tolerance for adults wearing coconut bras and feathered-fake macaws as headdresses, this event might be a fine excuse to head to Key West — or a prime reason to avoid it.
I've encountered smaller Parrot Head gatherings in the parking lots of the old Amway Arena in Orlando, where I covered plenty of Buffett concerts. That duty occasionally has included venturing into the margarita-powered tailgate gatherings for Parrot-Head-on-the-street interviews.
In Orlando, the Parrot Heads of Central Florida was founded in 1993 and is touted by members as the fourth local Parrot Head chapter established in the United States. Like other chapters, the Orlando club is devoted to supporting charity work as well as wearing grass skirts.
The Meeting of the Minds will include a 5K benefit walk for the ZONTA Club of Key West, a breast cancer research organization.
Who can join Meeting of the Minds? Attendance is limited to "any member in good standing" of an officially chartered Parrot Head club. Visit phip.com for details on local chapters or joining a virtual club.
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