Golden Coconut Winner - 2014

*Time For a Golden Coconut*

In a secluded cove, the warm water is a beautiful turquoise and when the coast is clear, you can see stars on the water. This is my one particular harbor. This is my new home in the Banana Republic. Who am I? Why I'm little Margarito and like the rest of my fellow beautiful swimmers here, I'm a manatee. Oh, I'm very thankful to be here because if it weren't for my ParrotHead friends, I might not have lived after my tangle with a boat propeller! You know, it was one of those guys who thinks he's a son of a son of a sailor, had a few too many boat drinks, and came too close to the seaweed beds……and OUCH! I didn't know what hit me. When I woke up, I was bandaged and in a pool with a big top tent to keep me out of the sun. I was very sore and very mad but happy to be alive! But enough about me, let's make changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes and let me tell you about my ParrotHead friends.

My adopted parents are a great group of people who volunteer their time and raise money for numerous organizations and charities, while having lots of fun. The year starts off with lots of planning for their biggest fundraising event of the year. I heard through the coconut telegraph that this event was full of pirates, gypsies and fun- loving individuals decked out in their finest tropical apparel. Some looked like fruitcakes, but all danced to the rhythm of steel drums and had fun with basket raffles, 50/50 raffles as well as a silent auction. They had a lot to drink about because their efforts raised $10,000 for Alzheimer's Association and a cancer research program.

They also support a local home for disabled children and adults through volunteer hours. It's not always easy collecting money at a busy intersection during inclement weather dressed in grass skirts and coconut bras! Why, some of them look like barefoot children in the rain, but everyone is always smiling and helped collect close to $3,000! When this home has its big fundraising festival, the ParrotHeads also volunteer by manning the beer tent. Boy, they serve a lot of beer and come Monday, some of them are sporting a “beer elbow". No worries, those elbows work just fine again to volunteer hours baking cookies or packaging baked goods, which this home sells to support their day to day operation and continued growth. My ParrotHead parents are proud to have helped this organization raise money to build a new wing to support some of their aging population.

Zoom! Zoom! Next, my ParrotHead parents went to a NASCAR event and sold NASCAR items before the race, raising $400 in support of a charity, which works with hospitals to provide baby blankets, resource information and support groups to parents with special-needs children. They also held a crazy bowling event where everyone decorated their lanes and put on silly attire, raising over $2,200 for this charity. Let me tell you, you never saw so many bowling balls defying gravity as you did that night!

Like all good ParrotHeads, my ParrotHead parents take part in the annual Alzheimer's Walk. Last year, they had numerous members lace up those tennis shoes and don their tropical best, raising over $12,000 for the Alzheimer's Association. Why some were even seen wearing scarlet begonias and fins in their hair!

Next, they moved on to the Far Side of the World pub-crawl to celebrate the clubs 20 year anniversary. Complete with passport lanyards, members journeyed to Ireland, Greece, England, Germany, Mexico, and beyond the end was the good old USA. Each stop required a check in with immigrations and a stamp for their passport. The club's crew did an awesome job putting this fun-filled event together as a thank you for its members hard work over the years. It was such a success, that the crew will bring back the magic and do it again this year.

My ParrotHead parents like to help the environment and have 6 highway clean-ups scheduled this year. They keep that stretch of road looking beautiful for the community. What a nice piece of work! When they aren't collecting garbage from the highway, my ParrotHead parents collect ink cartridges for recycling for cancer charities, pop tops for Ronald McDonald House, PJs for our wounded service men and women in hospitals, canned goods for the food bank, items for care packages for the troops overseas, and money for Wigs for Kids, a tornado relief fund, a local children's hospital, women's and veterans shelters and of course, Save the Manatee. They also bought t-shirts and donated money to Save a Vet, which is an organization that pairs retired military service dogs with disabled veterans.

During the holidays, my ParrotHead parents support the local zoo by purchasing and decorating a really big Christmas tree. Let me just say, it's VERY colorful and will bring you back to the island! After the decorating is done, it's time to go on a scavenger hunt through the zoo. All the teams are randomly selected so members get to meet new people. Did you know that a manatee is a pachyderm? Well my ParrotHead parents discovered that one on the hunt. They also collect unwrapped toys and donate them to a local store. This store sponsors a program that sets aside a section of the store for the donated toys. The parents of underprivileged children can go to the store and hand-pick out toys for their children, making it a very special time at Christmas. What a great idea!

My ParrotHead parents are a busy bunch. When they aren't occupied with fundraising events and volunteering, they arrange and host numerous house concerts, which support our local favorite trop-rock bands or some of those favorites who perform in Key West. Often, several club members like to be gypsies in the palace, taking a road trip to attend and support events sponsored by other ParrotHead clubs.

They also had loads of fun taking a tour of a new distillery making rum and blue agvae sprits owned and operated by two brothers who love the Caribbean. My ParrotHeads walked into the main room and what did they see? A pirate flag and a Conch Republic Flag!! And wait…… is that Buffett playing on the CD player?

It's like they were made for each other! In return, my parents just about bought out their stock of bottled rum and blue agavae. Well after all, they needed something to put in their tin cup chalice!

I have a costal confession. I think my ParrotHead parents are pretty amazing! They not only take care of me but they take care of others, raise money for charities, donate items, as well as hours and hours of their time. Why last year they raised over $25,000 for charity, donated 793 hours in 2013 and 397 hours so far for 2014, welcomed 25 new members in 2013 and 20 so far in 2014, bringing the membership total to 217. They had to find a new location for their monthly meetings due to this growth. They average 59 members each month at the club meetings. The old meeting place was becoming so small they couldn't even get a pencil thin mustache between tables! So far this year their numbers look even better!! Maybe I'm biased, but I think my adopted ParrotHead parents sure deserve the Golden Coconut Award! You couldn't find a harder working, more dedicated fun loving group with hearts as big as Jimmy's dreams.

Well, it's 5 O'clock somewhere and that somewhere is here! So I'm off to see the lizard and Buck Butt the turtle to share in a nice seaweed dinner or maybe I will play for gumbo! Yum! Here's hoping you catch a banana wind, go around the volcano and sail on sailors!