Northland's 'Tellabration!' inspired by rivers

| Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Pittsburgh's rivers are the inspiration for the area's annual “Tellabration!” storytelling event, which will be at 8 p.m. Nov. 23 at Northland Public Library in McCandless.

All the stories shared this year will fit into a “Banks of the Ohio” theme that focuses on the culture, history and terrain of the area.

“There will be a wide variety of stories,” said storyteller Mary Morgan Smith, 63, of Kennedy Township. Smith will participate, along with other veteran tellers including Joanna Demarest, Lisa Hollingsworth-Segedy, Alan Irvine, Edmund LoPresti, Kathy Maron-Wood, Scott Pavelle and Stas' Ziolkowski.

“Tellabration!” is hosted by StorySwap, Pittsburgh's storytelling guild. The event at Northland is one of many similar events held each November across the United States and worldwide to promote the art of storytelling.

A highlight this year will be performances by youth storytellers Elizabeth Irvine and Sara Walker. As the daughter of well-known local storyteller Alan Irvine, Elizabeth has been telling stories professionally since she was a young girl, Morgan Smith said. Sara Walker is a member of a North Hills storytelling program called Savvy Cinderellas, which encourages self-esteem in girls through storytelling, Morgan Smith said.

Scott Pavelle, 59, of Ross Township has participated in “Tellebration!” and other local storytelling events many times. This year, he will tell an original story inspired by the immigrant experiences of his great-grandfather.

“This area was built by immigrants, and the ‘Banks of the Ohio' is the place where many people ended up when they came over,” said Pavelle, who has worked on this story for two years.

Storytelling has been an interest of Kathy Maron-Wood, 58, of Shaler Township for more than 30 years. Originally from Michigan, Maron-Wood has honed her craft through participation in storytelling classes, conferences and festivals.

At this “Tellebration!” event, Maron-Wood will share a tale through music, with her own dulcimer accompaniment. “The story ‘Monongahela Sal' is about a girl who meets a boy on the river. It has a fun chorus with a chance for the audience to sing along,” she said.

The event also will feature a story about Pittsburgh tall-tale character Mike Fink and an urban legend about a haunted house on the North Side of the city.

Morgan Smith, a children's librarian at Northland, researched old news clippings for her story about the North Side residence. “It was once considered the most haunted house in the country,” she said. The story will weave urban legend fiction with real events, such as a gas-tank explosion near the house.

Mandy Fields Yokim is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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