Winter is going through its last few hurrahs. Thankfully, most of the winter storms passed over us and although we got our fair share of cold and snow, we muddled through. Spring is coming. Cabin fever? It’s time to get out on the road and look for that tiny speck of green, the budding of the trees, the temperature at 50 which says its time for Sunday drives, auctions, and pie.
We all have a lot of expectations about Route 66. We have ideas of what 66 should be like and how it should be preserved. The group that met with the World Monument Foundation, American Express, and the National Parks Service in November 2013 has evolved into a steering committee. This group will be chaired by Bill Thomas, an avid Route 66 activist from his chosen hometown of Atlanta, Illinois.
Under Bill’s guidance I feel the steering committee will help coordinate an effort across all eight states to help Route 66 Tourism and Economic Development. We all love our Mother Road miles, but the practical side of our two-lane highway love affair is if there aren’t service businesses alongside it, it will once again fade away. The Alliance and National Federation have merged into a new group. There is a third party also that is working to be an outlet for everyone on the road headed up by Jim Hinckley.
I am personally putting my support behind the steering committee that consists of a well-balanced group that represents the entire Mother Road. My personal belief is that Route 66 should become a National Trail. Many of the original people who formed Associations such as the Illinois Association, (started in the late 80’s) are getting “more mature.” We need to look to the future. I believe the status of National Trail will help preserve and protect our miles.
We have our yearly cleanup/fix-up day planned at Odell Station Saturday, April 11. If you’ve never come out and helped out on a workday, come ready to have fun. Tourist Season will be starting soon and we get together and laugh and get a little dirty polishing up our Route 66 gems for the world to see. This will be a record-breaking year as far as International tourism, and “staycations” have doubled the number of families visiting our museums. The City Hall Shops next to the museum have been converted to an extended Wall Dog Museum and display about Bob Waldmire and his life as an artist and 66 promoter. This new display will open to the public on Red Carpet Corridor Weekend, May 2nd and 3rd.
With spring comes car shows and festivals and fun. With current gas prices almost making it fun to fill the tank again, I encourage everyone to get out on the road and help support our business members along 66. It’s Maple Sirup time again in Funks Grove. The Rest Stop along I-55 (Funks Grove Rest Stop) is once again open (after 2 years) and John Weiss and his Preservation Work Crew has gone in and cleaned and freshened our display there. The City of Wilmington is starting up Flea Markets on the first Saturday of each month – the “inaugural” is April 4th from 9 to 4 PM on North Water Street! Remember that the 90 Miles of Fun from Joliet to Towanda on May 1st and 2nd (Red Carpet Corridor) will include BBQ contests, car shows, flea markets, garage sales, fun food, and this year’s collectable will be a “wooden nickel.”
We have a new Governor and we don’t know how the state of Illinois will be focused or refocused. All we can hope for is that the Governor sees how important Route 66 is to all of Illinois and keeps Illinois tourism funded to help make our visitor’s trips all they can be.
We’ve lost a few great supporters of the road, Scott Cameron (Route 66 Sodas), and Gary Turner (Gay Parita). These 2 gentlemen were gracious and always took the time to talk with travelers. They will be missed.
There are bridges to save, gas stations to scrape and paint, car shows to raise money for cancer research, and more so check our website often. Starting March 15th we will be posting dates for future events along the road.
The Motor Tour weekend is June 12, 13, and 14th and the theme is “Miners, Mobsters, and the Mother Road.” We will be traveling North to South starting with Friday night registration in Hodgkins. Saturday stops include Berwyn in the morning and overnight in Lincoln. Sunday brings the opportunity to support the new “Blue Carpet Corridor” from Chatham to Edwardsville with a special stop in Gillespie to see their new Mining Museum displays. We will end the tour with a drive over the Chain of Rock Bridge from the Illinois side to the Missouri side at 6;00 PM.
Better, sunnier, warmer days are coming! Thank you for your continued support!!
Looking forward to seeing you on the road!!!