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By Christen M. Stroh

On August 6, Mon River Towns, a non-profit focused on helping local communities recognize the river as an economic and community asset, partnered with Venture Outdoors to offer a float trip down the Monongahela River.

Rebel Rebel 1
Mon River Towns Partners with Other Local Entities to Host Historically Themed Kayaking Trip

This was no ordinary, run-of-the-mill kayaking event, though. Titled the ‘Rebel Rebel Float Trip: the Whiskey Rebellion with a Bowie Twist,’ this kayaking trip involved a 4.5-mile paddle to the Monongahela Aquatorium with periodic stops along the way to witness performances on the riverbanks that told the story of the Whiskey Rebellion, a pertinent part of southwestern PA history during the 1790s.

The inspiration to create such an event came when Mon River Towns Program Director Cathy McCollom saw an example of a play when traveling out-of-state that was performed on riverbanks as people were floating by; she wanted to do something similar using the river systems here in the Pittsburgh area. Those involved with this project decided they wanted to be able to interpret the history of the Whiskey Rebellion because of its little-known status as a major historical event.

‘Bowie’ refers to musical artist David Bowie, whose career spanned several decades from the late 1960s through the 1990s. Though 200 years separate the events of the Whiskey Rebellion from the music of David Bowie, there’s a common thread there in the theme of rebellion. “When we decided to focus this on the Whiskey Rebellion, I kept thinking about rebels, and the David Bowie song ‘Rebel Rebel’ popped in my head when we were talking about it,” said Amy Camp, consultant for this project. She continued, “There isn’t any direct connection between David Bowie and the Whiskey Rebellion, but we thought it would be a nice hook and it could be interesting and silly and fun.”

 

Rebel Rebel 2
Music along the Mon

The trip began at 3 p.m. Participants got in the water, began to paddle, and stopped along the way for historic interpretations. Every time there was an interpretation, there was also music to accompany the history. Once the paddle was over, participants docked at the Aquatorium for dinner, where Wigle Whiskey also had bartenders with cocktails that were Bowie-themed as well as whiskey samplings. Prohibition Pastries catered the event. Mon River Towns endeavored to include local small businesses, as there were snacks from Triple B Farms, and the group hired a local photographer and area interpreters.

The event was well-received, and sold out with 27 participants, a trip leader, and two other assistants. The program met its goal of raising awareness of the Monongahela River as an asset and a paddling choice for regional residents, as many commented that they’d never thought to paddle on the Mon, but this trip gave them the opportunity to do so, while learning something at the same time.

“We've hosted kayaking trips in the past, but this was the first with a theme and story to tell, live music and interpretation, and a dinner,” said Camp. “It was important to us to provide a memorable experience, which we believe that we did, mainly by sharing history in a fresh way, while still honoring the history.”

 

** PHOTOS

Rebel Rebel 1.jpg -and- Rebel Rebel 2.jpg
Mon River Towns Partners with Other Local Entities to Host Historically Themed Kayaking Trip

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