Saturday, August 15, 2009

How to tailgate at Jimmy Buffett

Want to be a Parrot Head?

Here is how to make the fins fit in

August 6, 2009


Coconut bra? Check. Flip-flops? Check. Lobster brisket? Huh? Yes, that is right since it is anything goes at a Jimmy Buffett pre-concert tailgate party.

Participants to the fins fest on Saturday and Aug. 15 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview can expect to see tons of Hawaiian shirts, lots of margaritas and more than a few grills charring up cheeseburgers.

Glenn and Nancy Kadas, of Burbank, are among the many Parrot Heads who hail from the Southland.

Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band
When: 8 p.m. Saturday and Aug. 15.
The parking lot will open at 9 a.m. for those who would like to tailgate.
Where: Toyota Park, 7000 S. Harlem Ave., Bridgeview.
Tickets: $29, $79 and $129.
Phone: (708) 594-7200.
Etc.: This show is part of the "Summerzcool" tour.

Where to find fellow Parrot Heads
More information about the Chicago Parrot Head Club can be found at the group's meet-and-greet booth during the tailgating at Toyota Park prior to the Jimmy Buffett concert, or at

The show can be a one-day vacation during which chief executive officers and truck drivers party side by side with their fellow fans, aka Parrot Heads, Glenn Kadas, of Burbank, said.
Though the crowd is pretty laid-back, a newbie likely will stand out if he or she does not abide by a few unspoken rules.

"There is nothing funnier than a Buffett concert tailgate virgin," Kadas said. "They try too hard and look like tourists in Florida."

What to wear
Those who want to broadcast their lack of experience, Kadas said, can wear a brand-new Hawaiian shirt or mistake the parking lot for Ravinia and bring wine.
"That is a no-no," he said.

Proper etiquette, Kadas added, is to look tacky. That means bad shorts, flip-flops and really worn-out Hawaiian shirts.

Grass skirts and coconut bras also are encouraged for both women and men.
Seal the deal with bad hats with animals on top. Parrots or sharks work especially well.

What about sustenance?
Casey Kerkstra, of Oak Forest, said when it comes to alcohol, the more Caribbean, the better.
Margaritas tend to be the most popular beverages, followed by Hurricanes, beer and other assorted tropical drinks.

"To balance out all this drinking I've always thought a decent amount of food is needed," he said.
Though cheeseburgers are an obvious choice, Kerkstra said this year his group is "going to island up our food by making coconut shrimp, jerk chicken and lobster brisket.

"I should mention that you'll want to bring more of everything so you can share with the people next to you."

Being sociable is a big part of Buffett-style partying, something Kadas credits to the liquor.

Set the scene
Toyota Park is unique in that the parking-tailgating spots are wide enough to accommodate canopies, said Billy Brehm, president of the Chicago Parrot Head Club.

And canopies are just the beginning. In addition to bean-bag games and makeshift bars, Parrot Heads have been known to haul in sand and enough water to fill a small pool.
In 2008, Brehm said, one group brought in enough wood to build a tower on top of their van so they could survey the entire tailgating scene from on high.

Kadas plans to set up his portable tiki bar and canopy.
"We decorate our canopy to look as tropical as possible," he said. "One year we brought sandbags with sand to spread on the ground."

Brehm said grills are OK, but charcoal is not. Those who plan to barbecue should bring the propane, he added.

As far as facilities go, Brehm said Toyota Park has excellent accommodations.
"They have a lot of port-a-potties spread around the grounds. And they're very clean compared to a lot of places."

Go the distance
The parking lot will open at 9 a.m. for both Buffett concerts.
If one is like Kadas and Kerkstra, who plan to be among the first through the gate, Brehm said to "remember it's a marathon, not a sprint."

Once in the lot, tailgaters are stuck so they should make sure, in addition to alcohol, that they have lots of water and food. No food or drink will be for sale.
But if someone gets into in a pickle, he or she can ask their neighbors for help.
"It's a very friendly crowd, determined to have a good time," Brehm said.
"If you have never been to a Buffett tailgate party, you are in for a treat," Kadas added.

"Oh yeah, at around 8 p.m., some 60-year-old guy named Jimmy Buffett has a concert and plays the same 20 songs he has played for the last 30 years. We know all the words."
But newbies should not let that be a stressor.

"All virgins have to know," he said, "is how to make a fin over your head with your hands. You will catch on quick."
Good advice, indeed.


Anonymous said...

The information here is great. I will invite my friends here.


Anonymous said...

i have a small airstream and want to tailgate
who do i contact for info for may 21st