The first week in January of this year it was announced that the Showboat would be closed to the public effective immediately. Later that month a meeting was held with the public to discuss future plans for the boat and what would replace it. Final paperwork seeking approval to build over the river is scheduled to be submitted by the end of April. Official fundraising will begin with Lowell Rotary Club’s auction where funds raised will benefit the Showboat rebuilding effort.
In the Queue
The current status regarding the future of the Lowell Showboat is similar to that of the amusement park experience. There’s saving money for the trip. There’s anticipation for riding a favorite roller coaster. And there’s also the waiting in long lines. You feel like you’ll never be next. But once you’re finally seated and strapped in things start to happen. And it’s exciting!
In December 2016 a draft application was submitted to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). Members of the Rebuild the Lowell Showboat committee continue to work on improvements suggested by the DEQ following the draft application. Their final plan is scheduled to be sent to the agency at the end of the month. At least six month time frame will follow before final paperwork is either approved/rejected or further recommendations are requested. Once approved, using DEQ guidelines due to building over the Flat River, a new structure can be planned. “Until the new structure is built, we plan on maintaining the current structure.” says Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Liz Baker. “We want the boat to represent our city well and look it’s best until the boat has been decommissioned.” When planning, especially removing the current Showboat and building of the new structure, begins there will be a big need for volunteer work hours as well.
The process of waiting for application approval, finalizing a new structure, and eventual construction will likely take years. But with a cost of an estimated between $1.5-$2 million it’s not too soon to start thinking about how to raise money. The Lowell Rotary Club holds an auction every other year to benefit an organization or effort in the community and an international project. Due to already having international funds available, this year all money raised will be given to showboat efforts.
Planning the Event
The Denim and Diamonds theme was selected in 2015 and was such a hit Lowell Rotary Club decided to keep it for the year’s auction. Guests are welcome to come in jeans or dress up. The important part is having fun while raising money for a good cause.
Dave Abel is the National Sales and Marketing Manager for Root-Lowell Manufacturing Co. and has been a member of Lowell Rotary Club for six years. As the chairperson of the auction committee he and his team have been working behind the scenes to prepare for the event. “Our last auction still had monies to pay for our international trip to Haiti and the other local projects we committed to, so once it was announced that our beloved Showboat, which spanned 85 years (5 total boats) was shut down for safety reasons, we wanted to be the first in the community to help raise money to rebuild it. We need to keep ‘Showboat City’ going!” says Abel of how the Rebuild the Showboat effort was selected to benefit from this year’s auction. The Lowell board voted for the showboat as did the club when it was presented during the beginning of planning. Past auctions have helped international efforts such as water filters for Haiti. Local projects helped in the past include building Richards Park, the pavilion in front of Cherry Creek Elementary on Foreman, and the Riverwalk stage.
Monthly committee meetings have turned to weekly gatherings with the auction less than two weeks away. Finishing touches are in progress. The final week leading up to the evening of fun will consist of creating a program, organizing auction items, and setting up seating arrangements.
A Fun Evening Awaits
The Friday, April 21 deadline to reserve a seat and/or donate to the cause is fast approaching. Reservations and donations can be made through the Lowell Rotary Club website. More than 200 individuals registered to attend and close to 200 items have been donated for the auction. Those attending will have the opportunity to participate in a live auction of more than 20 items. And there’s still time for these numbers to grow. Lowell Rotary Club would like to see at least 200-225 guests.
A supporter of Rotary and its efforts, Tony Gates from 97 WLAV will take on the role of auctioneer. This will be his third auction with the Lowell Rotary Club. What can guests expect to see available on the big night? The live auction portion will showcase an African Safari, week stay in a three bedroom home in Florida, UofM football tickets, MSU football and basketball tickets, and more. A large variety of silent auction items include golfing foursomes, Red Wings tickets, an airplane ride, and Waterford items.
If live and silent auctions aren’t already exciting, there will also be a raffle. A necklace with white diamonds and a blue diamond in the middle will be the prize. Tickets for the chance to win will be sold for $20 each the night of the event.
Continued Fundraising Efforts
When news of the Showboat closing to the public was released Matthew D’Agostino, grandson of the late Ivan Blough who built the current vessel, set up a Go Fund Me page to help raise money. This page remains active and is one way to contribute.
The City of Lowell will soon have a restricted account to house monies to be used for rebuilding the Showboat. Donations will be able to be made to the City and placed in this account.
Chimera Design is planning a Fantastic Estate Jewelry Sale on Thursday, April 27. LowellArts! and Rebuild the Showboat will split 10% of sales from the sale.
LowellArts! and the Lowell Area Chamber are putting on a fundraising concert August 25. According to Chamber Director Liz Baker, “Alive and Well has generously donated their talent for this event. Watch for more details on this in the near future. We anticipate many other ideas for fundraising to come from various organizations, businesses and the community. Please feel free to contact the Chamber with your ideas or concerns.” Information and updates regarding the Showboat can also be found on the Chamber’s webpage.
The Good Cause
The Lowell Showboat has been an icon for the city for decades. While the boat itself and what it is used for has changed through the years Lowell continues to be known as “Showboat City”. Once again the Lowell community will help author the next chapter in this tale.
The building across from the Showboat, known to some as the Head-end Cable building will be the new location for adult beverage sales during the Summer Concert Series and a temporary home for Santa when he returns. The Chamber is currently working with the city to secure and prepare the area.
When, Where, and Why
Those wanting to attend or make a contribution to the Lowell Rotary Club’s auction to benefit Rebuild the Showboat efforts must do so by the Friday, April 21 deadline. The Lowell Rotary Club website is the easiest and fastest way to act. And if you prefer a vegetarian meal you can make a notation when making a seat reservation. You can also pre-register to be able to use a credit card the night of the event as payment for any winning bids.
Friday, April 28 at the Grand Volute, located at 655 Lincoln Lake, the big event will take place. Doors open at 5:30pm. Be there for the official start of fundraising to keep the Showboat tradition going for future generations in the Lowell community. The event page on Facebook has more information and will continue to be updated until the event takes place.