The Parrot Head Club of Port Aransas is one of 200-plus clubs in Parrot Heads In Paradise, Inc. “Parrot Heads” are fans of the singer/songwriter/author Jimmy Buffett whose music and books celebrate the beach bum – err, life of tropical island leisure. However, while members of Parrot Head clubs have been indeed been spotted in Hawaiian shirts or coconut –shell bras, board shorts and flip flops with a margarita in hand, they are about more than just holding down a beach chair and working on a tan or a beer buzz. Internationally, Parrot Head clubs hold numerous fundraisers that benefit a multitude of charities such as cancer or Alzheimer’s research, environmental causes or the March of Dimes.
The PHoPA –- Parrot Heads of Port Aransas –- is no exception. The club has as its main charity the Helping Hands Food Pantry. To raise money, club members participate in fundraisers like the Wing Ding chicken wing cookoff, the Port Aransas lighted boat parade, the Mardi Gras parade and SandFest. (That they have “phun” doing it doesn’t detract from their philanthropy.) A group of industrious Parrot Heads has met most Wednesday evenings to handcraft “hangover” wind chimes, hands-free wineglass holders, beaded necklaces and other items essential to creating the perfect beach bum vibe in home décor and attire. Sales of the crafts at various festivals and at Beaches Café and Bakery benefit the PHoPA charities. However, not to get too task oriented about this, “craft-night” usually involves a lot of socializing and the consumption of Parrot-Head-appropriate beverages and snacks. The once-a-month club meetings are also as much convivial potluck gatherings as they are business meetings and if that isn’t enough togetherness, there’s also once-a-month happy hours held at various locations around town. Yes, the Parrot Heads are serious about “leaving the world a better place to live,” but they’re just as dedicated to “having fun and making lasting friendships” while they’re doing it.
The club was founded in 2009 by LuAnn Ferguson. Formerly of Keller, Texas, LuAnn had enjoyed her membership in the Lone Star Club there. So, when she and her family moved to Port Aransas, she started a Parrot Head club here. At about the same time, the Coastal Bend club was getting started in Corpus Christi. That club has since folded but its members have merged with the PHoPA. The PHoPA has about 85 members, quite a few of whom are out-of-towners who have a second home in Port A. Deno Fabrie serves as Vice President, Diana Fabrie as Secretary and Sandria Stout is Treasurer.
Most Parrot Head clubs put on one big fundraising party a year and last year, the PHoPA hosted “Wings Over Port Aransas” which benefitted the Animal Rehabilitation Keep to the tune of $5,200, a sum that stunned ARK director Tony Amos. This year, the PHoPA has been challenged to raise $8,000 for the ARK, enough to construct a shade structure for Barnacle Bill, a large loggerhead turtle housed in an outdoor tank. “Wings Over Port A: Pirate Island” is poised to do just that.
The weekend of “phun” scheduled for October 7 to 9, 2011 includes a beach bonfire and cookout, two brunches, a party with entertainment by Jerry Diaz and Hanna’s Reef, pirate garb (an event T-shirt), pirate booty (a goodie bag), plus live and silent auctions. Among the auction items is a king size quilt handmade by club member Barbara Creager. The quilt is centered with a beautiful panel of parrots, backed with a fabric of musical notes, and has lots of appliqued Jimmy Buffett-inspired details. Also up for bid is a model pirate ship hand-built by Rockport’s Jack Niederkorn. This 1:80 scale model brigantine, named the Corsair, is of the type preferred by pirates during the 18th. More than 250 hours were spent in the construction of this model. Over 30 sponsors have each donated $250 or more to make “Wings” a success.
Ten-dollar raffle tickets can be purchased by mail sent to Parrot Heads of Port Aransas, P. O. Box 914, Port Aransas, Texas, 78373, and the “Wings Over Port A: Pirate Island” registration fee of $50 can be mailed to the same address. “Pirate Central” will be at the Dunes condominiums at Lantana Drive and space is limited to 150 partygoers. For more information, visit the Web site at http://www.portaransasparrotheads.com or check out the club’s Facebook page. You can also contact club president LuAnn Ferguson by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to join the club or attend “Wings Over Port A: Pirate Island.” I’ll see you there. —www.devorahfox.com