METROPOLIS, Ill. — The sculpted image of actress Noel Neill in her
fictional role of Superman romantic interest Lois Lane is having a very
real effect on tourism.
“During the height of the summer tourism season, before kids were back
in school, we were getting anywhere from 25 to 40 people a day in here
asking where the Lois Lane statue is,” said merchant Jim Hambrick.
Hambrick, who owns the Super Museum just across the street from
Superman Square and the city’s 15-foot-tall Superman statue, said
publicity over the dedication of the Lois Lane statue in June generated
a new flow of visitation. Some people were enticed to visit Metropolis
for the first time, while others were repeat visitors who made new
pilgrimages to add the bronze Lois Lane/Noel Neill likeness at Eighth
and Market streets to their been there/seen that list.
Hambrick noted CNN coverage of the statue dedication, attended by
Neil, 89, during the city’s Superman Celebration.
Angie Shelton, Metropolis Tourism director, said the newer statue is
boosting foot traffic as intended.
“We’re seeing the results we thought we were going to see — more
people are walking around in town, making the two-block walk from the
Superman statue to the Noel Neill statue.
“We’re seeing more people at the Superman statue, too,” Shelton said.
“The new statue gives them more to see, and people are spending more
time in town.”
Clyde Wills, Metropolis Chamber of Commerce president, said the
chamber still is selling personalized bricks that go into the new
statue’s base. A new batch of inscribed bricks will be installed soon
after Thursday’s deadline, but sales of the bricks — $75 each — will
continue, yet another batch to be installed later.
The total cost of the Lane/Neill statue is about $70,000, Wills said.
Metropolis initially paid $29,500 from a hotel-motel room tax tourism
fund as a local share of the statue costs. The city paid $24,711 more
as a loan later when an Illinois tourism grant in that amount was
caught in the state’s budget crisis.
Alderman Charles Barfield, the city’s representative on the Metropolis
Area Tourism Commission board, said the state grant payment is
authorized and may come to the chamber as soon as January. Meanwhile,
the city is comfortable enough with the tourism fund loan for a tourism
project — repayable as soon as the tourism grant is freed.
“No pressure (on the chamber or state tourism department) is being
applied,” Barfield said. “We understand how it is.”
Orders for the commemorative bricks can be placed with forms on the
website www.noelneillstatue.com or through the chamber of commerce,
This article is original to The Paducah Sun and has been republished here through strict permission from Steve Vantreese.