jimmy buffett

Jimmy Buffett performs on Aug. 23, 2009, at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.

Ben Fogletto

ATLANTIC CITY - They wore coconut bras, grass hula skirts and cheeseburgers on their heads.

And that was just the men.

Ah, yes, Jimmy Buffett was in town Sunday night for a Boardwalk Hall concert presented by Caesars Atlantic City, and tens of thousands of fans - aka Parrotheads - flocked to the Boardwalk's beach bars and area watering holes to celebrate all things Buffett.

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"I usually go to Jones Beach to see him, but I needed to come here because it's the best party," said Ariana Clifford, of Long Island, N.Y., who had a parrot tattooed on her right shoulder.

The Trump Plaza Hotel Casino Beach Bar was packed as a Buffett tribute band offered party music as fans wearing parrots on their heads attempted to do the limbo - unsuccessfully.

Michelle Van de Walker, of Howell Township, Monmouth County, sported a navel piercing of a battery-operated parrot that lit up.

"It's an escape," said her husband, Jerry Van de Walker. "For today, we're in Margaritaville."

It was an identical scene at Bally's Atlantic City's Bikini Beach Bar, which was packed with Parrotheads sipping Buffett's beer, Landshark, and listening to another tribute band.

The consensus was that Atlantic City was the place to see Buffett, even if the concert was indoors and they couldn't tailgate like they do at most other Buffett summer concerts.

"Anyone can have a parking lot," said Donna Bonk, of Keyport, Monmouth County. "Atlantic City has the beach."

"The fun ends in the parking lot; it never ends in Atlantic City," added her friend, Angela Smith, of Old Bridge Township, Middlesex County.

She wasn't kidding.

Inside Boardwalk Hall, the party continued in a big way. Even before Buffett and his Coral Reefer Band took the stage, beach balls were bouncing around the sold-out crowd as they drank margaritas and beer, many double-fisting.

Balding, barefoot and wearing a T-shirt and board shorts, the 62-year-old still brings it. With two video screens on each side of the stage and a large center one displaying videos of beach scenes and bay sunsets, Buffett chatted with the crowd all night and worked in references to the New Jersey shore, Wildwood, Cape May, the Steel Pier and The Chelsea Hotel before the second song ended.

He certainly has a lot of help to sound as good as he does. Aside from the crowd, which sings along to most of his songs, Buffett is backed by a 10-piece band and two backup singers on a stage filled with palm trees and an overall beach theme.

Opening with "Lage Nom Ai," "Coconut Telegraph" and "Summerzcool," the crowd went nuts when the band ripped into "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere," singing at the top of their voices as the aroma of marijuana filled the front rows.

Before the intermission, Buffett already played a bunch of his hits, including "Volcano," "Cheeseburger in Paradise," "Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes," "Son of a Son of a Sailor" and even a very appreciated and nicely done Van Morrison cover, "Brown-Eyed Girl."

At intermission, as they lined up at the concession stands for more Landsharks and margaritas, the crowd knew they would hear "Fins" and his signature "Margaritaville" before the night was through, and recent setlists suggested they might also be treated to Beatles and Crosby, Stills & Nash covers.

As usual, Buffett fans young and old joined the party, begging the question, "Why don't these Parrotheads ever grow up?"

"Why should we?" screamed Denise Ellis, of Virginia Beach, Va., sporting a popular coconut bra. "We don't have to."

Ed Bonk, of Keyport, however, may have had the best explanation: "We don't grow up because the beer stunts our growth."

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