Monroe, LA. Population of nearly 50,000, and the only thing hotter than the weather is the A&E reality TV show "Duck Dynasty." The Robertsons received their fame through their business, Duck Commander, because they created a duck call, creatively called the “Duck Commander.” These people are recognized everywhere. Speaking from personal experience as a Monroe native, our family traveled to the Grand Canyon and when locals asked where our family was from, their response was usually along the lines of “Oh my gosh!! Do you know the Robertson family?! You live in the "Duck Dynasty" city?!” They were even more ecstatic when telling them that I’ve gone to school with the Robertsons all my life. This same situation has happened an incalculable amount of times in numerous places: Orlando, Las Vegas, even when talking to a friend in Germany. Their rapid call to fame has brought them world-renowned recognition.
They are everywhere, and it is strange to think that it all started in a small city in North Louisiana that I’ve called home for the past eighteen years. However, there is more to Monroe than just the Robertsons and their vast, growing empire. When talking to a family friend, as well as a representative from the Biedenharn Museum in Monroe, I was able to discuss the history of Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines in Monroe. In 1894, Joseph (Joe) Biedenharn made a revolutionary decision. He contacted Coca-Cola and asked for the syrup, as well as permission for the beverages to be bottled. Coca-Cola was reluctant, but they agreed. He and his brother Herman were the first to bottle Coca-Cola to sell in their family store: Biendenharn Candy Store. With Joe’s guidance, his family established plants in Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, and Arkansas. The family had a wish to move back to Monroe in the early 1900s, where Joe figured out how to mass-bottle Coke. Biedenharn Museum & Gardens is where it all started, and during visits, you can actually see the first Coca-Cola delivery truck, which delivered Biedenharn bottles filled with Coke sent to the consumers in the 1890s.
Another thing you may not know about Monroe is that Delta Airlines originated flights for travelers in Monroe as well. Although starting out in Macon, Georgia as a crop dusting business called Huff Daland Dusters, the company moved to Monroe and was renamed Delta Airlines, influenced by the nearby Mississippi Delta region. Delta Airlines first carried passengers on June 17, 1929. Delta Airlines is the sixth-oldest airline by the date of foundation, and the oldest airline still currently in operation. In 2013, Delta was named the world’s largest airline in terms of passengers carried and second-largest in terms of capacity.
Monroe is more than just "Duck Dynasty;" Monroe is home to the birthplace of Delta Airlines, Biedenharn Museum & Gardens, as well as a national park, Black Bayou, CenturyLink headquarters (which was first established in Monroe by Clark Williams), The Garden District, The Masur Museum of Art, Louisiana Opera, Bayou Bowl, Pecanland Mall, University of Louisiana at Monroe, bars, plenty of schools, as well as the historic Trenton Street on Antique Alley. Granted, the Robertsons do bring a lot of tourism to Monroe, but there is so much more than what you see on the screen if you watch their show. There are things to do and sights to see (not to mention some amazing people) other than the Duck Commander shop in Monroe. It’s all about how you perceive Monroe: you can perceive it as the “Duck Dynasty city,” or you can view it with a wider lens that highlights the rich history and array of current arts, culture, and entertainment that Monroe has to offer.