The months preceding the 20th annual Meeting of The Minds in the Fall of 2011 were dripping with anticipation in Parrot Head camps. Hearsay and supposition that Jimmy Buffett would make a surprise appearance at each of the last 19 MOTM’s was commonplace. This year was somehow different. Even local skeptics started to believe. The almost 4,000 Parrot Heads brought an unbridled enthusiasm with them, as always.
However, what began as the customary murmurs at MOTM headquarters at Casa Marina infectiously spread across the island. It wasn’t just visitor chatter in hotel lobbies and in the cars on the Conch Train. The people driving those trains and working the front desk of those hotels started to believe, too. For a few days the skepticism of the annual phantom Buffet arrival subsided. Doubt was replaced with desire. We locals wanted to see Jimmy play. Unlike these imports who pay hundreds of dollars to see him in football stadiums back home we wanted to see him Key West style: for free. A free Buffett show adheres to our island dogma. We spend lots of money on tourist priced drinks, but we don’t pay for music in Key West.
The two story stage at the corner of Duvall and Flemming extended higher than any building other than the nine story La Concha hotel, the tallest building in Key West. Elaborate colors and costumes hung from every balcony and joyfully congested the streets surrounding the stage in every direction. A man and woman both walking on stilts and wearing rhinestone studded threads methodically lumbered in and out of the crowd as people parted in front of their legs. People proudly posed in matching costumes grouped together by home city. Many were over served their favorite beverage, but few, if any, were sloppy or stumbling. It really was just a perfect day. It was the day that the rest of the world assumed we lived every day. It was the day Jimmy came home!
He walked out barefoot. “I heard I was in town,” echoed through two stories of speakers. The traffic signals at the corner of Duval and Flemming consistently changed from green to yellow to red during every one of the 15 songs he played.
Do you have a favorite story during a Key West Meetings of The Minds? Share them below, I’d love to hear it and share it with the world.
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