Parrot Head Club has Alzheimer’s Association fundraiser

VIENNA – About 200 people gathered for a fundraiser with a South Florida feel Friday at the Parkersburg Country Club during the eighth annual Mountaineer Parrot Head Club Island Fest.

Kim Kaplan, co-executive director, said every year they support a different cause with the Island Fest and this year’s group was the Alzheimer’s Association.

“Every year it is a different cause,” she said. “We’ve had these for the humane society, the Parkersburg Art Center, the Junior League and the Alzheimer’s Association.”

Kaplan said the event raises between $5,000 and $7,000 each year. So far, she said, the club has raised $40,000 for organizations.

“This is our one big event,” she said. “Throughout the year we join in with other charities to help out.”

Over the Island Fest’s eight years it has taken place at different places.

“We’ve had it at Buzzie Dils Park, Bicentennial Park and this year we decided to try a pool venue and the country club has been wonderful allowing us to use the pool this year,” she said. “Our band this year, the Caribbean Cowboys, drove in from Asheville, N.C.”

Sandi Winans, co-executive director, said the Mountaineer Parrot Head Club is part of a national organization based in Key West, Fla.

“It started with a group of eight people in Key West who just happened to be there during the ‘Meeting of the Minds’ which is the national organization,” she said. “They were told they needed to start a club in West Virginia and we did.”

Winans said the club has had the party every year. She said they have 56 members and the annual Island Fest has about 200 in attendance. She said the local group is the only Parrot Head Club in West Virginia.

“It appears we are a bunch of partying Jimmy Buffett fans,” she said. “Honestly we are a philanthropic group that raises million of dollars every year.”

Wendy Hamilton, regional coordinator for the Alzheimer’s Association in Wood County, was at the fundraiser.

“All the proceeds go to our Walk to End Alzheimers which is next week,” she said. “It pays for the resources we provide to families and also to those living with the disease.”

Hamilton said those resources include a 24-hour help line, a library on the disease and care, support groups, a car giver newsletter and workshops.

Hamilton said someone is diagnosed with the disease every 68 seconds and there are five million people living with the disease in the United States and 46,000 in West Virginia.

Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell said the city and the club will be working on a program at Point Park in the spring.

“They will be working with us for the big boat show downtown next year,” he said. “We reached out to some of the big boat companies about a show for this year but it was too late.”

Newell said the show will probably be in the spring before the start of the boating season.