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Lego Showboat on display at LHS

A Lowell Showboat constructed from Legos is now on display in the main hallway at Lowell High School across from the WRWW 92.3 FM studio.

The trail to the display case began five years ago when a Lowell fourth grader named Vivi Bledsoe entered and won a contest called "I Want To Build" by submitting a photo of herself in front of the Lowell Showboat. Her grand prize was a gigantic model of the Showboat constructed entirely out of Legos by master model builder David Howard of Chicago. Bledsoe enjoyed her Lego Showboat at home for about a year, then allowed it to be on display inside the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce building. Earlier this year, Bledsoe, now a ninth grader at Lowell High School, donated it Lowell Rotary's "Denim and Diamonds" auction to help raise money to rebuild the Showboat. At that auction, Red Barn Consignments & Antiques owner Marty Chambers purchased the Lego Showboat, the demolished Showboat's smokestacks and other Showboat memorabilia.

"It was a silent auction, so I had to keep going back up and back up and back up," Chambers said. "Every five minutes I walked back over to check on [the Lego Showboat] and the smokestacks. It's pretty cool, it's one of a kind. Vivi Bledsoe's mother came into the store and said, 'You've got my daughter's Lego Showboat!' [At first] I was like, 'What kind of person has Lego build their daughter a Showboat? Who does such things?' That was when I learned the whole history of her entering the contest, winning it and going to Chicago. In the antiques industry, if you have a provenance trail, that's king. When her mother came in and explained everything, all of this started a provenance trail for the piece and its entire history. I never get to be at the beginning of anything like this, where you can start the provenance trail. You're usually 200 or 300 years into the provenance trail, never at the very beginning, so I found that very cool."

WRWW station manager Al Eckman also attended the auction and noticed that Chambers bought the Lego Showboat and had it on display at his store. Since the station's nickname is "the Showboat," Eckman wondered if Chambers would consider allowing them to place it inside of a glass display case across from their studio in the main hallway at Lowell High School.

"I was at Red Barn Consignments talking to Marty and thinking about maybe getting a piece of the Showboat to put in our studio," Eckman said. "I saw the Lego Showboat and thought, 'It can't get any better than that!' So I inquired, he said, 'Yeah, we'll loan it to you,' and we are just so super pleased."

"When Al approached me, I was like, 'Yeah, let's do it," Chambers said. "We wanted [to keep] it in the store until we were done selling the Showboat memorabilia, which is coming to an end at the next concert. There is hardly anything left."

The new display includes Bledsoe's prize-winning photo from five years ago, photos of her in Chicago helping design the Lego Showboat with master model builder David Howard, choosing Lego pieces of the correct color and size and, nine months later, picking up the finished product. Chambers added one feature to the Lego Showboat for its display at LHS, a tiny Captain Blough.

"You've been in my store, I collect all these tchotchkes and silly little things," Chambers said, "Somewhere along the line I picked up this little guy. Mike [DeVore, Lowell mayor] and I wrote 'Ivan' on him so Ivan can be in the showcase too. [The Showboat] is a symbol of our downtown, and it'll be here forever, because plastic, as we all know, doesn't biodegrade in landfills."

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