Effective immediately, the Lowell Showboat in downtown Lowell is closed to the public.
The “Robert E. Lee,” as it's called, has been docked on the flat river for nearly 40 years as an entertainment venue and community resource. The city says they years have taken a toll and it is no longer city safe for people to go on board.
“We can no longer have people on the boat anymore,” confirms Lowell City Manager Mike Burns.
But that may not sink the showboat tradition in Lowell.
The current vessel is the fifth showboat since the first set sail back in 1932.
Every time some issue threatens to sink the ship, the Lowell community rebuilds or replaces the showboat. And there is a committee already in place trying to make a plan.
“The issue obviously is going to be funding,” says Burns. “Trying to find the funds, it’s not going to be cheap to restore or replace the boat.”
Not everyone in Lowell thinks replacing or restoring the showboat is a good idea.
“I think there are some people who would like to see it stay,” says Ted Bentley. “But me, personally, I think we could use the money for something else in the community.”
Others think the showboat tradition is worth preserving.
“It has been there a long time and I feel like we need to keep it that way,” says Jessica KInyon. “I think it brings a lot of good to our community and does a lot to bring the community together.”
The "Rebuild the Lowell Showboat Committee" is planning a public meeting Jan. 19 in city hall to share information and get ideas from the community.