Parrotheads in Paradise: A Social Club With a Charity Habit


The term “Parrot Head” evokes a certain image: Shorts. Sandals. Loud, beachy prints. A cold beer or frozen margarita in hand. But ask any official Parrot Head–that is, any one of the 30,000 dues-paying members of Parrot Heads in Paradise Inc.–and they’ll tell you that the familiar beach bum stereotype leaves out one major, defining factor of their persona: do-gooder.

Thanks to the hugely successful “Margaritaville” brand, Jimmy Buffett has amassed a for-profit empire that any entrepreneur might envy. More quietly, however, his trademark “escapist” mentality has fostered the parallel growth of PHIP, a nonprofit organization that has raised nearly $30 million and logged more than 3 million volunteer hours in just over a decade.

“As we like to say, we’re a social club with a charity habit,” says Andy Harrell, PHIP national vice president. “It’s not all about the party. It’s about the party and how we can use that party to help benefit someone else.”

With popular “Trop Rock” songs like Buffett’s “Cheeseburger in Paradise” or “Fins” playing in the background, weekend-long drinking festivals, sports tournaments, and even international travel opportunities drive its fundraising efforts. And with 233 Parrot Head clubs worldwide — including a few in Puerto Rico, Canada and Australia — local charities are most often the beneficiaries…

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