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Pennsylvania 'Parrotheads' mourn Jimmy Buffett

Parrotheads across the country and here in central Pennsylvania are remembering the late Jimmy Buffett.

SUMMIT HILL, Pa. — On the corner of East Fell and North Oak Streets in the borough of Summit Hill, sits "A Salty Piece of Land," in honor of Jimmy Buffett.

Jack Dopira is behind the display, serving up a "Cheeseburger in Paradise" one final time, in memory of the man he says changed his life.

Buffett, the 76-year-old singer and songwriter, died from a rare aggressive form of skin cancer on Friday, surrounded by family and friends.

"I was doing a project on my porch when I heard the news and I just had to stop work and just kind of hung my shirt up on the pole and the next thing you know it just kind of grew. I'm sure I'll let go eventually," said Dopira.

His property is covered with more than two dozen t-shirts from Buffett shows he has attended and tropical decor that was used for concerts.

Dopira calls himself a full-fledged "Parrothead," A term given to fans of Buffett.

He's gone to so many concerts that he can't remember when exactly, his first one was, just that he's always ended up "Wasted Away Again in Margaritaville."

"It was probably in the mid-'90s in Camden, on the blacktop, but since then I just followed him up and down the East Coast, pretty much anywhere he played. Lots of Florida shows, Carolinas, New York, Jones Beach, up to Boston, Vegas," Dopira said.

Stan Karnish is one of the founders of the Black Diamond Parrothead Club out of Summit Hill. He says the Buffett bug bit him early and he never looked back.

"It's a sad day, sad day for everybody that's a Parrothead," said Karnish. So, we've just got to move on, live on, and just remember his meaning, what he brought to us. The songwriting and his vision keep the Parrotheads clubs going."

The owner of Soundcheck Records in Jim Thorpe is a big Parrothead, collecting memorabilia from past shows, and even organizing several bus trips to see him in person.

"We took like five cars and went to the Mann Music Center. The next year that evolved into a couple of Winnebagos, and by the time they built the waterfront in Camden (NJ) we were taking three 47-passenger buses," said Jim 'Troop' Pompa, Soundcheck Records owner.

Fans say his music not only brought people together from different generations, but his message of island escapism and fun "changed latitudes and attitudes" for many.

"It's the storytelling because anybody could just put out lyrics to music that you don't even listen to or just don't make sense, but the more you listen to them, the more you learn he lived it and he kind of relates that to you and makes you want to live it too," Dopira said.

"He had a line in a song and it said, 'Our lives change like the weather, but a legend never dies,'" Pompa added.

That's a line these Parrotheads plan to live by, in hopes of keeping this "Son of a Son of a Sailor" alive.  

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