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Lively Up Your Belly

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More than a decade after the Parkview threw its first Reggae Brunch, Bob Marley fans now line up outside the door for the annual tribute to the late music legend. "It's grown like a flash fire," says Norm Plonski, the bar's owner. "Winter's outside, and we're inside enjoying reggae music."

The Marley minifest usually takes place on the Sunday closest to the Rastafarian renegade's February 6 birthday. Plonski postponed it a week this year to avoid the crush of Super Bowl parties. The bash starts with a midday choice of 10 menu items — from eggs Benedict and French toast to buttermilk pancakes and cheese-and-tomato omelets. Once brunch ends at 2 p.m., the kitchen stays open to serve jerk chicken with peas and rice, while Carlos Jones and the P.L.U.S. Band plug in for a six-and-a-half-hour marathon of reggae music. "The first year they came in, I thought, Oh, my God, they'll blow your ears off with all those amps," says Plonski. "But they're not young kids blasting your ears off."

Instead, it's the standing-room-only crowd that cranks up the decibels — with boisterous sing-alongs, bouncy dance steps, and frequent toasts to Marley (who died of cancer in 1981; he would have turned 61 this year). "I remember when these young kids came in. They're drinking, and I go, Who's driving you home? They said, 'Our moms are coming to get us,'" recalls Plonski. "Well, the moms came early, and the dads had to come get the moms and the kids."

Plonski compares the Marley tribute to Christmas; everyone looks forward to it all year long. Besides, throwing the party in the dead of winter adds to its Caribbean charm. "It's Jamaica, man, and everybody's drinking Red Stripe and forgetting what it's like outside," he says. "It's a good way to take a few hours' vacation from our shitty weather."
Sun., Feb. 12, 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m.

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