JONES BEACH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – The Parrotheads have returned in Margaritaville… or something close to it on Long Island.

The Jimmy Buffett show Thursday night at Jones Beach draws tens of thousands of his fans, many who showed up at 5 a.m. to begin the early happy hour, reports CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff.

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“We’re here to escape real life,” one man said. “This whole place becomes the island of Margaritaville.”

“Every year we’re here, same place, surfboard, we’re having a good time,” said another.

“This is my most favorite day out of the entire year. I look forward to it all the time,” a woman added. “I just started a new job and the criteria was that I could get off for Jimmy Buffett.”

For some, it’s not just about the music.

“We don’t stay for the concert,” said the woman. “I’m over that.”

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“We make it — sometimes we remember seeing him, sometimes we don’t,” another added.

One group from Albany hauled in two chlorinated wading pools, one for themselves and another for guests.

Another group from Plainview got to Jones Beach at 3:30 a.m. and was nearly the 100th in line, but it arrived well equipped.

“We have four tents, a camper, a box truck, two cars,” one woman said. “We hire a chef.”

The rite of summer has become more than an annual tradition, it’s gained a worldwide reputation.

“We planned a trip and so it was like, ‘When is Jimmy Buffett on Long Island? OK, we’ve got to go then,” said another woman.

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In 2017, the crowd topped 80,000 people with just 15,000 seats at Jones Beach theater – putting the real party for most people out in the parking lot.