“Mapdanna”

Mapdanna – mapdannuh (n) a bandanna with a map of Warren County outdoor recreation printed on it.

It’s a map.

It’s a bandanna.

It’s Mapdanna.

Tired of the usual thank-you hats and water bottles, the minds behind the Allegheny River Cleanup and some other local events decided to do something a little different.

“Northwest Savings Bank is one of the major sponsors of the Allegheny River Cleanup and every year Northwest donates a commemorative hat,” John Beard said. “Last year, someone suggested that we think of something different. In the brainstorming session, someone suggested a ‘do-rag’, which led to the bandanna idea.”

“Pat Evans said that if we were doing a do-rag, we should put a map of the river on it.and the ideas took off from there,” Beard said. “The final thought was that we could do a piece that could serve as a hat – a do-rag style – but that would also showcase all the outdoor activities that we have going on in our area. The artist had to be Ellen Paquette – and she graciously volunteered her time to create the artwork.”

“John contact me with this basic idea, and I immediately said ‘yes,’ as I’ve done a lot of illustrative pen and ink projects of a whimsical nature and knew it would be fun,” Paquette said. “Plus, I loved the idea of representing as many of the outdoor events and businesses in the area as possible on a bandanna.”

The item is “something different than the usual complimentary hat that volunteers have been getting as swag for helping with the Allegheny River Cleanup and related cleanups,” Paquette said. “I believe (Evans) and Ines Nelson and Beard discussed it and got really excited about the idea of a bandanna that would have images representing various outdoor activities/venues in the region as well an overhead view of the Allegheny River from Betts Park to the reservoir and beyond to Kinzua Beach.”

It wasn’t easy.

“It’s incredible how much is actually going on here, and trying to fit so much of that into a 20-by-20 inch drawing was like piecing together a puzzle,” she said. “I did an 11-by-11 spec drawing for John, Ines and Pat to take around to businesses and organizations that might actually want to use the Mapdanna as a memento/swag for their events, as well as outdoor businesses that might want to sell them.”

The final 2013 version of Mapdanna has arrived. There are about 2,000 of them in 12 colors hanging around Northwest prior to distribution to the groups that ordered them.

“Since Northwest was going to pay for the screen charges and set-up, we decided to allow other organizations to buy Mapdannas in their own color selections – so many organizations around town will have Mapdannas for prizes, gifts and incentives and Allegheny Outfitters and Grizzly Gary’s will have them for sale.”

The choices include just about any color for the cloth and white or black ink.

Those placing the orders simply had to pick. Some had to pick more than once.

“Blue Mapdannas will be featured as a race premium at the Cinco races and walks the first week of May 2014,” organizer Chuck Gray, who also coordinates the Running rEVOLUTION, said. “We are very excited that next March 25th between 150 and 200 running rEVOLUTIONaries will hit the streets of Warren in their fashionable pink Mapdannas.”

There could be more events and businesses added for future editions.

“It’s possible that the image will get updated in the future if others want to join in,” Paquette said. “Once I had the list of all those who wanted to be included, I created the final full-sized drawing.”

Not everything on the Mapdanna has been conclusively proven to exist in this area. “Some things that I put in the spec drawing just to fill space, such as Bigfoot, were transferred to the final drawing due to positive response,” she said.

“Looking at this Mapdanna makes me smile,” Ines Nelson of Pennsylvania Kinzua Pathways said. “Not only because of Ellen Paquette’s beautifully whimsical illustrations, but mostly because its content validates everything that PKP stands for.”

“There is a lot going on in outdoor recreation in Warren County,” Nelson said. “A nice, continuously growing mix of volunteer and small business efforts, too. We would like to thank John Beard and Northwest for making this happen and look forward to the Mapdanna that includes ‘The Trails at Jakes Rocks,’ a world-class mountain biking trail system, coming soon.”