Jimmy Buffett's music tells tales of sun-soaked beaches, umbrella drinks, parties, pirates and all things Caribbean.
His fans, called Parrot Heads, have made his music into a lifestyle and their tailgate parties are renowned.
You can find Parrot Heads in every city, and Oklahoma City's has turned their partying ways into fundraising events that benefit several city charities.
Trina Greer, president of the Central Oklahoma Parrot Head Association (COPA), says her group is a social club with a charity problem and they “party with a purpose.”
In 2012, COPA members worked 1,856 volunteer hours and raised $40,722.
Buffett is a believer in “think globally, act locally” and all Parrot Head groups must have four charitable events a year in their area to be a member in good standing of the national group, Parrot Heads in Paradise.
In the past 10 years, Parrot Heads in Paradise have raised over $26 million and worked nearly three million volunteer hours.
Geer and Leanna Olsen founded their Jimmy Buffett fan club in 1993, when it had 20 members. In the 20 years since, membership has grown to more than 300 members who have monthly meetings, regular events and plan special trips, all with charity involved. A 501(c)3 non-profit is a part of the organization, called COPA Cares.
“The club motto is ‘We never met a Parrot Head we didn't like,'“ Geer said in a phone interview from her Oklahoma City home. “We welcome families and plan a lot of activities for our younger members, who we call ‘Parakeets.'“
One of their fundraisers dovetails with the Jimmy Buffett concert May 4 in Frisco, Texas, at the FC Dallas Stadium.
The “Frisco Phiasco” is a ticketed tailgate party in the venue parking lot. While part of the $20 entry fee goes to charity, the rest goes to catered food, portable toilets and plenty of shade.
“Having wristbands for entry into the party lets us control the crowd,” Geer said. “This is a fun fundraiser for the club. We have food, games and a wonderful afternoon of Parrot Head madness before the concert.”
Geer said all you need to bring to the event is a lawn chair and a cooler of whatever you're drinking.
COPA donates money and volunteers to the Central Oklahoma Humane Society, the Work Activity Center in Moore and the Regional Food Bank of Central Oklahoma. The group holds events to benefit each group.
Throughout the year, COPA hosts events for other charities. Last year COPA sponsored its first cruise, raising $12,000 for Habitat for Humanity.
Whatever they do, they manage to include “fun” in their fundraising, always with a nautical or tropical twist.
Events include a Crackpot Christmas party, a “Fins and Pins” bowling tournament, the “marGEERitaville” house party at the Geer home and “Putts for Mutts,” along with their monthly “Watering Hole” meetings.
“We also have a few events every year when we bring non-perishable food to help out at other house parties such as the Dive-In Theater and the Buccaneer Ball,” Geer said.
COPA has members throughout the metro area and as far away as Ponca City, and their membership fees are some of the lowest in the nation. Membership is always open, and anyone can buy a ticket to the “Frisco Phiasco” until they sell out.
“We're really a big family,” Geer said. “Anything you do for your community is a blessing.”
For more information on COPA and the “Frisco Phiasco” visit www.copa-nut.com.