Buffett fans washed away by the rain - Omaha.com
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Chris Wade of Omaha smiles with his island hat while tailgating in the rain before the Jimmy Buffett concert outside the CenturyLink Center Omaha before his concert on Saturday.(REBECCA S. GRATZ/THE WORLD-HERALD)


PARROTHEADS

Buffett fans washed away by the rain
By Kevin Coffey
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER


Video:

Update: 5:30 p.m.

Heavy early evening rains kept all but several very dedicated groups from tailgating before the Jimmy Buffett concert.

Those that remained in parking lots huddled under tents and around warm grill fires.

All of the other revelers packed into nearby establishments such as DJ's Dugout, the Old Mattress Factory and the Hilton Omaha.

The Hilton lobby bar was so full that Parrotheads spilled out into other areas of the lobby on chairs, couches and benches where they sipped beers. The FIshheads played to a massive crowd at the Old Mattress Factory and Buffett music blared at DJ's Dugout, where there was not a single open table.

The rain also caused an outdoor party at the CenturyLink Center sponsored by local radio stations and the arena to shut down early. It was scheduled to last until 6 p.m., but when a reporter walked past at 5 p.m., it was already mostly dismantled.

* * *

Saturday was a gloomy, rainy spring day in Omaha,but inside the tent at the Old Mattress Factory, it may as well have been in the Bahamas.

As a cover band played Buffett songs and other similarly-styled tunes by Alan Jackson and Zac Brown Band, fans formed a conga line, tipped back cocktails and danced with friends.

Lynne Hawk showed off a picture of her and Buffett, which she took the night before at the Hilton Hotel bar. Buffett was very gracious, but quiet, she said, and took pictures with a few others.

Over at CenturyLink Center parking lots, rain kept away some tailgaters. In the early afternoon, some smaller lots were empty and none were full, though dozens of RVs and cars were in the lots. When a little rain came down, some stuffed games and grills back into their cars and others took shelter under tents they had set up.

Charcoal grill fires could be smelled blocks away and, despite a gloomy day, the party went on with fans dressed as pirates and parrots. Some flew an American flag and others a Jolly Roger and others brought sand and palm trees, but almost all of them were blasting Buffett music from car stereos or big speakers.

Decked out in grass skirts, leis and rainbow-colored hats shaped like parrots, Lisa Strasheim and her friends sipped cocktails, grilled hamburgers and waited for 10 to 20 more to join them. Her group had secured a coveted corner spot in the parking lot at 8:30 a.m.

They were worried about the weather, but figured they'd relocate to the Old Mattress Factor, where they could get more food and booze, if the weather got bad enough.

“We do have an evacuation plan in place,” Strasheim said with a laugh.

She and her friends work at Alegent Health Center in the neonatal care unit and they run an organization called Parrotheads for Premies. Almost all of them had seen Buffett in concert before, some as many as nine times.

“But the tailgating is the real experience,” said Peg Baker.

They also hoped to spot Buffett. Sometimes, they said, he comes and walks around the tailgaters and they use the footage during the night's concert.

"We've been trying to talk up security whenever they come by," Strasheim said, chuckling.

VIDEO Omaha: Watch Buffett fans endure the rain in Omaha

Contact the writer: Kevin Coffey

kevin.coffey@owh.com    |   402-444-1557    |  

Kevin covers music, whether it's pop, indie or punk, through artist interviews, reviews and trend stories. He also occasionally covers other entertainment, including video games and comic books.

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