As I write this letter, it’s almost tour time and the mad rush to the end is on with finishing touches of letters, passports, getting all the details worked out so the tour is seamless!
I’m excited about some great new stops this year and a few dedications along the way. Nick Adam is joining us as the Grand Marshall as we cross over the Chain of Rocks bridge on Saturday morning, June 9th at 8:30 AM. We’re thrilled for this rare and limited opportunity to drive across this historic bridge!
There is also an end-of-tour party in Elwood at Lloyd Erickson park on Sunday, June 10th! Jim Hannah and the Country Boys with Ron Gonsoulin will provide the music.
Red Carpet was a wonderful success again this year. The weather was perfect on Saturday. Sunday was mixed but still well attended. There was a grand opening ceremony for the 1940s exhibit on the second floor of the Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum. This is an amazing exhibit that really brings you into the 1940s the minute you step off the elevator. We are pleased to share our second floor space with such a wonderful collection.
There’s a lot going on this year along Route 66. Communities will start having their local events so make sure you check our website if you are looking for fun! Remember Catfish Days in Wilmington is July 26th – 29th and don’t forget the Taste of Joliet June 29 – July 1st. Pontiac will be celebrating their 175th birthday with a “Pre-War Festival” featuring 1940s music, car shows and more June 29th – 30th. Hopefully gas prices will continue to stay level and we can all get out on the road for a little R and R.
Preservation has been busy. There was the annual clean-up day in Odell, followed by a couple of days of painting on Tall Paul in Atlanta. The Pantagraph Newspaper had a nice article about the fact that people joined in to paint Atlanta’s giant from Michigan and Iowa. Come out and get your hands dirty and have fun at the same time. Remember we work for food!
Volunteers. Every Association needs some helping hands and some people to help us spread the word. If you are interested in being a Board Member or Officer, positions will be up for election in October.
John Lucchesi and Jerry Law went to Springfield with the Scenic Byway’s Bill Kelly to ask for more Route 66 signage in Springfield. The gentlemen fought the good fight however Springfield is hesitant to mark all the routes citing it could cause confusion. I know if its possible these three will get it done. We are grateful for the support IDOT has shown us all these years and we remain, according to our Route 66 visitors, the best marked state.
We’ve had an unusual Winter and Spring and the tourists are out in mass early. On one recent Saturday there were already 3 buses with over 150 visitors to Pontiac and our museum. These were International visitors and one thing that was commented on repeatedly was how “green” Illinois is. Sometimes we forget.
The Association is throwing their support behind an initiative that the North Litchfield Township and the Montgomery County Natural Areas Guardians are working on. The initiative seeks to get a grant to develop parking and signage and a year-round nature trail thru a natural grassland between I-55 and Route 66. This area is full of natural vegetation and flowers and grasses and it is important to save our native landscape as well as the adjoining concrete road.
Litchfield had a groundbreaking ceremony for their new Litchfield Museum and Route 66 Welcome Center. The Route 66 Associations of Missouri and Illinois will once again join together to pursue National Parks funding to redo the Vic Suhling Gas for Less sign that came with the property.
Our last mutual project, the Luna, will hold a Grand Relighting Ceremony on Friday, June 8th. There will be a caravan from the Mother Road Festival in Edwardsville at 8:15 PM down to the Luna where the owner and Association Member, Larry Wolfford, will hold a second relighting for all the tour goers and friends of Route 66. Both the Illinois and Missouri Associations will be participating.
So much to do, so much to see. Check the website for details on all this and more. We’re always glad to have new friends on our Facebook page.
Looking forward to a wonderful tour and summer on the Mother Road with you!