It’s been more a marathon than a sprint, but the Lowell Showboat Committee says they are coming down the home stretch for their fundraising efforts.
The committee had a goal of raising $780,000 to complete the sixth incarnation of the Lowell Showboat, and they have pledges for everything but $40,000. The group will continue to collect donations until April 20, 2021 when they will wrap up the fundraising campaign.
To help the committee hit its final goal, credit union PFCU is offering to match up to $7,500 in donations. Several naming opportunities remaining for those who want to sponsor a portion of the boat, or for a minimum donation of $125, donors can have a brick inscribed with three lines of text. Bricks will be laid on the Riverwalk alongside the Showboat.
New Lowell Showboat Built to Last
It’s been two years since the fifth Showboat was demolished and removed from the Flat River. A record-setting flood in 2013 caused damage to the boat, and it was closed to the public in 2017.
Fundraising for a new boat started in that year with a Lowell Rotary Club auction, and the effort received a big boost from state grants secured by then State Senator Dave Hildenbrand. The first pieces of the new boat arrived last summer, and the Showboat Committee has been working earnestly since then to raise the final funds needed to complete the boat and add restrooms to the Riverwalk.
Unlike previous boats, Lowell Showboat VI is made of steel, rather than wood. That means the new boat costs considerably more to build, but committee members believe the boat’s lifespan will be 75-100 years. For comparison, the last Showboat was in the river for approximately 40 years.
Floating Venue with Americana Theme
While the Lowell Showboat is currently an asset of the City of Lowell, the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce has been heavily involved in the fundraising effort to make the boat a reality. They are also assisting in the creation of a non-profit that will take over management of boat once it is completed.
“Every time I walk in there, I think it’s amazing,” says Liz Baker, executive director of the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce. She says the new Showboat is unlike any of the previous versions of the boat.
While the last Showboat hosted Santa Claus each winter in a small room warmed by space heaters, the new boat has an HVAC system that will control the climate on three decks, making Lowell Showboat VI suitable for use year-round regardless of the weather. Up to 175 people can be comfortably seated inside with room for additional guests on the uncovered portions of decks.
“This is a first-class venue for the City of Lowell,” Baker says. With its plush carpeting and beautiful trim, she envisions the boat being used for weddings, meetings, reunions, parties and more.
As a nod to the heritage of riverboats, Lowell Showboat VI has an Americana theme with the grand staircase and second floor blanketed with blue carpeting studded with gold stars. The main level and pilot house have wood flooring, and there are nautical blue walls and white trim throughout. The pilot house also features a handcrafted captain’s wheel. Lighting will be installed along the exterior of the boat to allow it to be lit up on holidays as previous boats were.
Donor Naming Opportunities Remain
The clock is ticking for those who want to make a donation to Lowell Showboat VI and be immortalized as a boat sponsor. Of 12 exclusive donor naming opportunities originally offered, four are still available. These range from a $10,000 sponsorship of a walkway canopy on the Riverwalk to $100,000 for exclusive naming rights to the second floor of the boat.
Those who want to support the fundraising effort but don’t have that much to spend can buy a brick for $125. Each brick can be personalized with three lines of text of up to 16 characters each, and the bricks will be laid on the Riverwalk next to the boat.
“We’ve done really well with the bricks,” Baker notes.
For $250, donors get to personalize a brick and will have their name added to donor recognition plaque. Larger bricks with four lines of text are available for $500 and $1,000, with donors at the higher level receiving two tickets to the Inaugural Gala Celebration.
Lowell Showboat VI Opens to Public in June
Baker anticipates work on the boat will be done by the start of June, and the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce is planning two events to celebrate.
On June 11, there will be a Gala Celebration to recognize all those who made the boat a reality. Former Senator Dave Hildenbrand will be a special guest of honor for his help in securing grant funds, and donors who purchased naming opportunities, starting with $1,000 brick donors on up, will be invited to attend as well.
Then, on June 12, Lowell Showboat VI will officially open to members of the public. That day is also when the Expo on the Riverwalk will be held. As part of the event, chamber volunteers will escort small groups through the Showboat so they can see the handiwork for themselves.
After that, the Showboat will be available for rental for private events. Then, in December, Baker looks forward to inviting Santa back on the boat to visit with area children for the 2021 holiday season.
For more information about the Lowell Showboat VI and how to make a donation, visit the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce website.