The unit was commissioned by townspeople in Lower Burrell who had not yet finished celebrating St. Patrick’s day to “take a trip to Arnold,” after making the stark realization that all the beer had been depleted from every place in town. In the process, though, the “reconnaissance convoy,” as Milton Haggard, owner of The Ye Olde Inn Tavern Lounge and Cocktail Bar put it, took a wrong turn and landed in neighboring Upper Burrell.
However, some residents don’t think it was an accident.
“Those people in Lower Burrell have a sense of entitlement, and think they can just take whatever they want” said a resident who spoke to this publication on the condition of anonymity. “There is no doubt in my mind that this was a premeditated act meant to pillage our Pilsner,” he said.
According to the Norwin Star, which first broke the story, the small but well-equipped group of men and at least two women from Lower Burrell, located 18 miles outside of Pittsburgh and considered part of the Pittsburgh Metro Area, stormed its neighboring municipality some time around 7:30 p.m. Sunday, reportedly with two Chevy 4X4s, a Suburban with an extended cab and one Dodge Dakota -- so there’d be plenty of room to transport the beer.
According to one account by a member of the insurgents, "I'll be honest, we were drinking. OK? So instead of making it to Arnold, somehow we ended up in Upper Burrell, and we just went through with our plan, knocking on tavern doors in search of kegs ’n six packs ‘n at.”
Vernelle York, whose son Alvin refused to join the entourage that convened to stop the insurgents, citing Biblical passages about Caesar, summed up the unspoken feelings of many Upper Burrellians: “Funny, how the people on the bottom are always lookin’ down at the people on the top.”
Technically, Lower Burrell rests on the Appalachian Plateau, on the western portion of the Appalachian Mountain Range.
The Mayor of Upper Burrell bristled at the idea that any animosity existed and refused to speak to us, but a source close to the mayor said that hostility among the two towns has been smoldering ever since the land that was designated and named after one Judge Jeremiah Murry Burrell was divided into two separate townships in 1879.
A spokesperson for the Westmoreland County Historical Society, Barbara Gump, explained that Lower Burrell grew to become distinguished as a “third class city,” in the state of Pennsylvania, while Upper Burrell languished as “little more than a cow path.”
The dispute, said Gump, heated up again during a construction boom in the 1990s when Lower Burrell, believing it was better, wanted to trade names with Upper Burrell, but Upper Burrell officials refused, claiming that the cost of printing new letterhead would exceed the township’s budget.
A resident of Upper Burrell, who did not want to give his name, said he doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about. “If you watch the local news, clearly, you’ll see that Lower Burrell gets all the media coverage. Somebody is greasing the palms of the Westmoreland County Bureau reporters, and we just look the other way, let them have their 15 minutes every day, so to speak.”
Otis Smith, affectionately known as the “town drunk” in Lower Burrell, said he believes that no matter what the facts are, the civic discord needs to stop. “Both municipalities should be embarrassed,” he remarked, with a hiccup.