Stan Culture Is Alive and Well on Long Island
A photographer infiltrates a Jimmy Buffett Parrothead tailgate party
It’s about 2:00 on a Thursday afternoon. By normal standards, all the busybodies and pencil pushers on Long Island are at their nine-to-five jobs. On Jones Beach, it’s a different scenario. The Parrotheads—diehard fans of the musician Jimmy Buffett and his “island escapism” lifestyle—have descended upon Jones Beach. They’ve flocked to the parking lots. And they’re here to party.
The booze-fueled scene is not unlike spring break. School buses have been rigged to accommodate bars and provide makeshift rooftops. Cover bands play in the beds of pickup trucks. Moms and daughters are zipping around on beer coolers that have been transformed into scooters. There are even parrots that sing Jimmy Buffett songs.
“Everyone on Long Island knows Jimmy Buffett. It’s a culture,” Alyssa Sinacori explains.
My midafternoon arrival is late by Parrothead standards. Parking lots have been full for hours, and the Land Shark and Bud Light intake has been high. “I got here at three in the morning, and there was already a line with over 50 cars to get in. They opened the gate at six,” explains Ray Ponitillo, who, after eight tailgates, isn’t even attending the actual concert. Which, for the record, is not the slightest bit uncommon among attendees. The tailgate has become an experience on its own separate from Buffett’s show. When asked his favorite memory over the years at Jimmy Buffett concerts and tailgates, Ponitillo laughs, “If you remember it, you probably weren’t here.”