Sometimes travel discoveries can be like gifts of the coming holiday season, unexpected. Shake a box, tear a ribbon, shed some discounted paper, and voila, lookey what I found! A recent experience provided just such a welcome surprise to this road-weary soul.
This past summer we were contacted and invited to participate as a vendor in the Mini Mart at the 20th Annual Meeting of the Minds, Parrotheads in Paradise convention in Key West, Florida. The title alone had me seeking the refuge of a nearby hammock! We thought “that seems like a great opportunity, and surely a fun week on the island”. But what followed turned out to be so much more than we’d anticipated.
We found ourselves pulling into Key West at the conclusion of a 13-day, and 4-island tour around the northern Caribbean. We were physically exhausted and hoping we could do this show while sleeping on our feet. This was our first exposure to KW and the Parrothead Convention, so we really didn’t know what to expect. Well, we’ve shed that paper and bow, popped the lid, and now we’re ready to Show and Tell the contents of that bountiful box!
First and Foremost, Parrotheads are a Hoot! These people
love to have a good time! Immediately upon arrival we discovered the crowd of faithful, adorned in some of the most colorful, tropical costumes and apparel that one could imagine. Surely these were thrift store refugees, no one would actually pay good money for this stuff… right? I suspect that most possess a more subdued wardrobe during their normal nine-to-five existence. Here however, they were decked out like a 64-count Crayola box. While many appeared to be at or nearing their golden years, it was clear was they were not yet ready to retire from life.
The Parrotheads, as a group, are frequently engaged in many worthy philanthropic causes. And it’s commendable, that even this week centers around their charitable interests. But make no mistake, Parrotheads Love Music! This week also centered around some of the best Trop Rock music assembled. You can stop in at almost any resort, bar, or restaurant, at any time day or night, and you are sure to find some really great live music. We met some great young artists, more about that in a future post, but almost from the time we arrived the rumors began to fly. By the second day the crowd was in a “fins” feeding frenzy, when the biggest name in the Parrothead vocabulary, Jimmy Buffett, made a surprise appearance and performed a free concert at the Street Fair. They really should widen Duval Street!
We also discovered quite simply that, Parrotheads are Awesome People! Everywhere we turned people were one sunburned grin from ear to ear. This has to be one of the friendliest groups of people we had ever encountered. One of the highlights of the week for us was the many new friends we made along the way. We had the good fortune of being situated adjacent to the Living Like A Pirate booth. Captain Dave and Cris were the consummate helpers for this newbie vendor, and provided a lot of laughs along the way. We also had the good fortune of meeting Tiki Doug, and the gang from Life’s A Beach.
Our final discovery was that Parrotheads Have Great Taste! The host hotel for the week of activities was the Casa Marina Resort and it could not have been better prepared and presented.
Situated on a beautiful stretch of soft white sand, the resort features two spectacular pools, and stunning grounds that served well as the backdrop for the nearly non-stop concerts on the beach. The staff was accommodating to a fault, and I’m not really sure how they did it, but even the weather was perfect the entire week. What a great facility, for such a great event.
Unexpectedly, this box was packed full of goodies that we hadn’t anticipated. And if that’s any indication of what the future holds, we can hardly wait to see what’s in our stockings!
Live the Life,