What is a “parrot head?” It’s a person who is a dedicated Jimmy Buffett fan, which includes me. We dress crazy by wearing grass skirts, coconut bras, leis and outrageous hats.

It’s knowing more songs than “Margaritaville.”

Jack was a fan long before he met me. I believe there’s even an agreement I signed as a pre-nuptial that I would be baptized into the “Church of Buffett.” Not really! However, over the years, we have belonged to parrot head clubs in Columbus, Dayton and Cleveland.

We have attended countless concerts in Cincinnati, Columbus, Pittsburgh and Key West.

The parrot head nation spans not only across the USA, but throughout many other countries. Each fall about 3,000 fans converge on Key West for a long weekend event known as Meeting of the Minds (MOTM). Musicians come from all over the country to entertain at bars and parties, and to participate in charitable fundraisers.

We call it party with a purpose. Money is raised for various service organizations, as well as a blood drive. Parrot heads provide the largest number of blood donors for Key West each year.

For over 20 years we had the Ohio version of this event on Put-In-Bay called Phlocking of the Phaithful every June.

Thanks to Jimmy’s music — and independent artists emulating his style — the genre “Trop Rock” was born. It includes a plethora of styles such as tropical, reggae, zydeco, country and rock. During MOTM, the Trop Rock Music Association honors musicians with a Grammy-like awards show from fan votes.

The label “parrot head” was a happy accident during a Cincinnati concert June 28, 1985. Attendees were sporting the wacky costumes. Band member Timothy Schmit looked out at the crowd and said, “Look at all those parrot heads!”

The first sanctioned club was formed in 1989 in Atlanta by Scott Nickerson. To have a sanctioned club it must belong to the governing body, Parrot Heads in Paradise (PHIP).

Clubs are required to get involved with local service organizations and charities. As a member of the Buckeye Parrot Head Club we volunteered at a homeless shelter, highway cleanup, Ronald McDonald House, Columbus Zoo Manatee Coast and more.

According to the “2021 State of the Phlock”, since 2002 a total of $58,300,000 has been raised, and volunteers have given 4,555,000 volunteer hours. That’s dedication!

I write this column as I remember my dear friend, Patty Kaley, from Pittsburgh. Patty and husband, Dan, organized the former Phlocking in Put-In-Bay. Patty passed away suddenly a few weeks ago while on vacation in Alaska.

Because of Patty, I gained hundreds of friends across this country by attending events she organized in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Some people leave a beautiful imprint forever on your heart.

Patty’s last act of kindness was uniting people in multiple states, including me, to offer events in an attempt to find a little seven year old Pittsburgh boy a bone marrow transplant.

We will keep working at that, Patty. I promise!

This Friday (July 15) at 7:30 p.m. Bluffett, A Jimmy Buffett Tribute, will be performing at the Murphy Theatre. This resident parrot head is excited to hear them, and enjoy the beach party atmosphere.

Come don your tropical duds to sing along and dance the night away.

Let your hair down and get “leid.” Phins Up!

Dianne Bonecutter Garrett is a Wilmington native and a former print and broadcast journalist.


Dianne Bonecutter Garrett

Contributing columnist