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Shell Sale

At Overton Park's historic amphitheater, everything must go.

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As experienced second-hand shoppers know all too well, the contents of any given yard sale are usually only as interesting as the host. That's why thrift-store junkies and pawnshop-aholics might want to know about a yard sale being held this weekend at the Overton Park Shell.

Volunteers from Support Our Shell (formerly Save Our Shell, the group that's been staving off shell demolition since 1985) have been clearing out decades' worth of backstage trash and treasure in preparation for the historic amphitheater's long-awaited renovation. Before that happens, however, some of the trash and treasure will be sold at "One Last Look Backstage at the Shell Yard Sale" Saturday, May 5th, and Sunday, May 6th.

Built in 1936, the Overton Park Shell has played host to countless musical events and theatrical extravaganzas ranging from Sondheim to Shakespeare. It is famously the site of Elvis' first paid concert, but it is also remembered for performances by the Grateful Dead and such seminal Memphis acts as Moloch and Mudboy and the Neutrons.

"It's not like we're going to be selling anything from the '30s," says David Leonard, vice president of Support Our Shell, explaining that proceeds from the sale will go toward creating and maintaining an archive for historic materials. "We will be selling an enormous forklift that needs a little work, a lot of sound equipment, speakers, speaker parts, some lights, some big shop fans, office furniture, appliances, lumber, some prop columns, and posters from events like Shell Shock, Memphis Mayhem, and Saturday at the Shell."

Even the shell's metal wings, which were added in 1970 after a 1969 fire damaged the original structure, are being sold with a buyer already in place.

"For all of the people who have been a part of Save Our Shell, this is like a miracle," Leonard says of the deal between the city of Memphis and Friends of the Levitt Pavilion to restore and program the Overton Park Shell. "We've always said that if the shell was ever actually saved, we wanted to become a support organization. But after 20 years, it all started sounding like one of those never-ending 'going out of business' sales."

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