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Nostalgia Meets New Tech on the River

As part of recreating much of the early design of its heyday, the Lowell Showboat includes the signature white dot lights around the perimeter.

After years of planning, the city of Lowell, Michigan opened the doors to its new showboat in the Spring of 2021. The Lowell Showboat is a replicate of the riverboats from the historic past, featuring a grand staircase, special wall coverings, tin ceilings, and a custom-made pilot wheel.

Over nearly nine decades in various versions, the Lowell Showboat was and is a beloved fixture and major attraction. Lowell city manager Mike Burns says, "We're the showboat city. It's a very important part of this community."

Dubbed the "George Washington," the first showboat was a project led by the Lowell Board of Trade and the American Legion that drew statewide attention. It featured talent shows with its first performance in August 1932, attracting an estimated 7,000 people who attended the first four nights of shows.

The new 3,500+ sq. ft., climate-controlled Lowell Showboat VI reflects the aesthetic of the American Classic Design in nautical blue, white, and cranberry red. This theme continues to be evident in the preservation of the city's Historic Downtown. White woodwork, dark stained wood floors and an elegant staircase are the centerpieces of the refined interior. The exterior of the boat is in keeping with the original color scheme, unique trim, and railings from the previous Lowell Showboat.

As part of recreating much of the early design of its heyday, the Lowell Showboat includes the signature white dot lights around the perimeter. However, instead of the original static incandescent white glass globes, the architect and electrical engineer specified RGB color-changing LED dots from Acclaim Lighting. AL Dot is a direct view, RDM / DMX node, designed for low resolution graphics displays and individual dots of color.

With an internal DMX driver and all aluminum construction, each of the 494 dots has its own DMX address, allowing for individual control for each location and producing intricate scenes of changing color. A pre-programmed DMX controller allows complex shows to be recalled by date and time or with remote phone control software on a wireless network. Each dot consumes only 3W of power, and has 150,000 hours of rated performance life. With an IP66 wet location rating, the Al Dots can perform in Michigan temperatures from -10°F to 123°F (-23°C to 50°C).

Available year-round for the first and second decks and about seven months of each year for the entire boat, the Lowell Showboat will leave a steadfast impression for those that tour the boat, book an event, attend city gatherings, or show up at a special occasion on the Flat River in downtown Lowell, Michigan with the nostalgia of the past with the enjoyment of today.


(1 July 2022)

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