Airboat tours to hit Lawrence County over Labor Day weekend - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Airboat tours to hit Lawrence County over Labor Day weekend

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By Ashley Conroy - email

MONTICELLO, MS (WLBT) - Those looking for an adventure over Labor Day weekend may be able to find it in Lawrence County.

The Monticello Chamber of Commerce is hosting the first ever "Pearl River Airboat Adventures."

State Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (D) Brookhaven came up with the idea after watching a national report on airboat tours.

With the tourism economy down on Mississippi's Gulf Coast, she thought it would be a great initiative to generate dollars in another area of the state over Labor Day.

"I've always heard the statement a river runs through it in Lawrence County," Senator Hyde-Smith said.  "And we need to capitalize on what we already have."

Senator Hyde-Smith and Sherry Pipen from the Monticello Chamber of Commerce developed a plan to get a couple of airboat captains to run tours through the area.

"And all of a big group of volunteers have joined together, put together and made this happen," said Pipen.

Pipen says they hope this effort will help spur other ideas to generate local businesses along the Pearl River.

"In hopes that we can develop the river, get some businesses on the river.  So to do that, we had to find a way to get people on the river," Pipen said.

Sen. Hyde-Smith says eventually they would like to corner the market in airboat tours in Mississippi. "Our long-term goal is to establish this industry along the Pearl River."

Captain of the Pearl River Airboat Adventures Gary Blackwell hopes to help with this effort as he says he will be running bi-weekly tours after Labor Day.

"I just saw the Pearl River sitting around and I thought no body's using it for anything.  So I just thought I'm going to start airboat adventures, and I did," Blackwell said.

Blackwell says he provides enough safety attire such as life vests and ear phones for his       six-passenger airboat.  Though he says this isn't a requirement, he does require that all children wear a safety vest.

On Labor Day weekend, tours are operating on a first-come first-serve basis.  The chamber says they have about 100 tickets left.  They ask for those interested

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