Robin Haines Merrill, the executive director of the Upper Room Art Gallery, came up with an unlikely idea. She imagined an evening where folks would row along the Himmarshee Canal in dugout canoes, taking in performance art along the water that nods to the traditions of the Miccosukee and Seminole Tribes.
That idea won her a Knight Arts Challenge grant in 2013. This grant will provide the funds to bring her concept into a staged event, called the Paddle Up, this Sunday.
“We’ll have a 28-foot tribal canoe that seats up to three people and will be paddled by Seminole and Miccosukee tribe members,” says Merrill.
The concept behind the event is to experience the indigenous culture and history of the Himmarshee Canal in our modern times through a unique performance art-driven experience, says Merrill.
There will be traditional trade posts at docks along the route, where authentic indigenous foods and drinks such as a pumpkin frybread and tangerine juice will be served. And scattered throughout the trip, there will be a display of traditional Seminole patchwork-style clothing on mannequins along the banks, which could make things interesting.
Two music videos will be on loop featuring OtterVision’s “Row,” and Seminole chairman James Billie’s (he’s also a musician!) “High Tide in Chokoloskee.”
Merrill says they have room for roughly 100 vessels, which can include kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards, but rentals will not be available. And if you don’t know how to row, that’s OK, just ask for help. “I didn’t realize that not too many people how to row canoes,” she says. “But it’s easy to do.”
Registration costs $15 per vessel. This could be an alternative to your Mother’s Day routine. Row, row, row your boat!
Paddle Up occurs on Sunday, May 10, from 2 to 5 p.m., meeting at All Saints Episcopal Church, 333 Tarpon Drive, in Fort Lauderdale. Call Robin Merrill 954-592-6021 or visit their Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1434646793503199/