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HomeArtFarewell to the Pirate: Remembering Jimmy Buffett

Farewell to the Pirate: Remembering Jimmy Buffett

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About this time last year, I interviewed former Weeki Wachee mermaid Kristy Lowman about her auspicious honor of being chosen as the Model Mermaid for an art collection known as the Tail Trail statues. A vibrant collection of life-size mermaid statues line The Tail Trail as part of the Destination Mermaids: The Tail Trail project, which the Hernando County Fine Arts Council, Brooksville Main Street, and Florida’s Adventure Coast Visitors Bureau co-sponsored to commemorate Weeki Wachee Springs’ 75th anniversary. And when I asked Kristy about her most treasured memories from her time at the park, her first of many answers came in quickly.
“I got to be in a Jimmy Buffett video,” she said.

Indeed, in 2012, Jimmy visited the park to film the Weeki Wachee Mermaids swimming in the spring, thus providing him with a spirited concert backdrop video to be played during the performance of his song “Fins”—how fitting! He even swam with the sirens, and during one of his Tampa concerts in 2014, he welcomed four mermaids—including Lowman—to join him on stage for the song that seemed custom-made for them.

Of course, the mermaids’ fins were not custom-made for dancing, so instead, the aquatic quartet was wheeled out on a platform to perform the classic hand motions associated with the song.

Soon after my interview with Kristy, I visited Weeki Wachee for the first time in quite a while and was delighted to find that the Fins concert clip is now being played as a part of the park’s mermaid show. I watched with a big grin as a father taught the song’s signature back and forth hand motions to his beaming little girl, raising my hands high above my head to join them, musing as I did that, finally, a dance had been choreographed that even I could do!

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A couple of weeks later, I returned to Weeki Wachee at the invitation of the wonderful Dianne Wyatt McDonald, one of the first Weeki Wachee mermaids. Now in her 90s, Dianne witnessed the performance of the signature Adagio pose swimming move that she created, courtesy of two current park performers. And while I don’t remember Dianne doing the hand motions during the Fins video, I do remember her tapping her previously finned foot and having a great time.

When I heard about the death of Jimmy Buffett, a legendary musical storyteller who passed away September 1, at age 76, it occurred to me that Buffett’s music touched all of us in different ways. And although I personally never found cause or reason to wear a papier-mache parrot atop my head, I certainly respect the diehard Parrot Head fans who do.

My Aunt Virginia, for her part, was a very prim and elegant lady, more apt to wear a pearl necklace around her neck than a parrot atop her head. But she was a Buffett fan who saw him in concert, relaying the experience to me later that summer at a family wedding. Soon, we found ourselves wailing forth with the chorus of “Margaritaville” in the back of a limo as friends and family members looked on in a show of sheer wonder if not outright awe.

In addition, a secretary I worked with at The Alexandria Times-Tribune in Alexandria, Ind., an animated lady named Diana, also happened to be a devoted Buffett fan.

When my parents moved into their new home in our hometown of Muncie, Ind., they found that the previous owner had left behind a treasure trove of old vinyl records, including several Buffett first editions. We gifted them all to a grateful Diana, who later invited yours truly onstage at the office Christmas party to perform a karaoke duet of his beautiful ballad, “Come Monday.”
Sadly, that night, those assembled asked us to return the microphones before the song’s completion.

Hey, we can’t all be Jimmy Buffett.

Jimmy Buffett “Fins.” Public domain photo

Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey is a features journalist and author who is the winner of Florida Press Association honors and a certificate of appreciation from LINCS (Family Support Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force) and Sunrise Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center for her newspaper coverage of these issues. She graduated cum laude from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., with a journalism major and English/sociology minor, and previously wrote for publications that include the Pasco editions of The Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times. A native of Indiana, she lives in Florida.
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