Meet a club that comes together for fun and charity.
They don’t have meetings. They have phlockings.
They don’t have a good time. They have phun.
Ask them about their phavorite songs, and you’ll likely receive answers like “Come Monday” and “Son of a Son of a Sailor.”
Good times, good music, and charitable work are all a big part of being members of The Villages Parrotheads Club, which has a propensity for substituting the letters “ph” (for parrothead) in words that start with the letter “f.”
When you think Parrothead, you think Jimmy Buffet. And when you think Jimmy Buffet, you think “Margaritaville.” The term Parrothead and Jimmy Buffet became intertwined in 1985 during a concert in Ohio. Those in the audience wore tropical dresses, Hawaiian shirts, and put inflatable parrots on their head. Parrotheads were born and soon spread their wings to create clubs throughout the country.
Today, more than 200 Parrothead clubs exist. With 1,150 members, The Villages Parrotheads Club is the country’s largest. Jimmy’s songs about island escapism appeal to his legion of fans.
“It’s not that we’re all die-hard Jimmy Buffet fans,” says Mark “The Shark” Woodland, who is president of the club. “We like what he sings about. His songs are about maintaining a relaxing lifestyle, enjoying yourself, and helping others.”
Of course, Mark is a big fan of Jimmy. He has attended 23 of his concerts and will attend his 24th concert in December. He joined the club immediately after moving to The Villages in 2014.
“We’re retired now,” he says. “We want to relax and have something to look forward to each week.”
That’s one reason why the club’s motto is “party with a purpose.” Yes, there are times members don Hawaiian shirts and floppy hats with their toes dug into a sandy beach while sipping on a “frozen concoction” or munching on a “cheeseburger in paradise.”
“Our club members went to a hotel in Daytona and brought in four bands that played in two days,” Mark says. “We relaxed, danced, and listened to music. We had a great time.”
The club has a travel committee that organizes trips. Past getaways have included dinner shows in Orlando and driving to Mount Dora for the Christmas light show. However, life as a club member isn’t all about beaches, booze, and boats. They like to party, yes, but they also engage in considerable philanthropic activities.
For instance, members organize annual golf cart poker runs and golf tournaments, both of which raise between $15,000 to $20,000. They donated to organizations such as Cornerstone Hospice, Operation Shoebox, Wildwood Middle School, and Shepherd’s LightHouse. They also hold the second-largest blood drive in Florida. In 2021, members donated 1,500 pints of blood. One pint of blood can potentially save three lives, according to the American Red Cross.
“The people in our club are so generous and friendly,” Mark says. “We’re great about helping people, and that’s why our club has such a good reputation and why we get so many members. Each day, we aim to leave the world a little better than we found it. Our members definitely accomplish that.”
Steve Larson agrees. He has been a member for 10 years and organizes the club’s newsletter and website.
“This club is my primary social circle in The Villages,” he says. “I love the people, the parties, and the trips. I also love helping people who need help.”
Indeed, Parrotheads are a phun and phantastic group of people.
For more information, visit villageparrotheads.com.