What a strange season this winter has been – from almost tropical to more snow than necessary to wind and rain and oh my! Punxsutawney Phil told us 6 more weeks of this and he wasn’t kidding. Winter snow and rain brings forth sunny days and the coming of the Illinois green and tourist season.
One change this year is that the Red Carpet Corridor is one day only – on Saturday, May 5th. Activities will be in all 13 communities along the road – Joliet, Elwood, Wilmington, Braidwood, Godley, Braceville, Gardner, Dwight, Odell, Pontiac, Chenoa, Lexington and Towanda from 8:30 to 5:00 on Saturday, May 5th. The “collectable” piece will be a magnet this year. The Red carpet committee decided to have a lot of magnets made so that should you not be able to get them all on the Red Carpet Corridor Festival, extra magnets will be available in those communities after the festival. The festival covers 90 miles – and some of the distribution points have been changes. We have posted the brochure on our Facebook and Website so that you can plan your route accordingly.
The Route 66 Car show and DJ will be in Towanda on Saturday, May 5th, from Noon until 4 PM. There is a Pin Up Girl contest at 2 PM so this is your opportunity to shine! I wanted to point out Towanda’s information as Doug Morris and Jody Wharton and their volunteers have had a fabulous car show in Towanda on Sunday in the past and I don’t want our members to miss out with the change of dates.
The magnet for Pontiac will be given out at the Pontiac Community Art Center, 209 W Madison Street about one block from the museum. Madison is one block south of Howard.
We are planning the 2018 Motor Tour “Route 66 Forever – Still Making Memories.” We travel from south to north this year and will be starting in Edwardsville at the Comfort Inn. Saturday we will cross the Chain of Rocks Bridge two times – east to west and back west to east – before hitting the road heading north! We are heading north during the Blue Carpet Corridor so there are events along the road besides thsoe listed in our passport on Saturday. We are overnighting in Springfield at the Route 66 Hotel where the Hall of Fame Banquet will be held. Sunday we hope to have a photo opp with some of our Illinois representatives and a great day continuing north where we will end at the Gemini Giant in Wilmington! So remember June 8, 9 and 10!
The Road ahead continues to work together to plan for the future. All State associations are represented in this group as well as other groups that represent Route 66 interests. The goal is to work together to provide funding for future restoration projects along Route 66 in all eight states! Current funding under the National Parks Route 66 program “sunsets” in 2019 and most likely will not be renewed.
The National Trail seems to be working its way through the appropriated channels and it is hoped that it will be cleared and a “go” for the end of 2018. It is of vital importance that we preserve Route 66 with protection by the National Parks Service. Route 66 will continue to be the national treasure it is – and will be honored and protected as a National Trail. Politics and money are always in constant flow but we need to acknowledge that our Route 66 caretakers are aging, and without an influx of younger people into our ranks, there many be no future state associations to carry on the day to day work that preservation brings: maintenance, maintenance, maintenance! National Park status will ensure that the road continues to be maintained and protected. There are 19 National Trails in this country.
Our next Preservation Workday is at Ocell Station, Saturday, April 7 at 10:00 AM. Join usl. The preservation motto is “We Work For Food” and a hot lunch will be provided. Come out and get a little dirty and enjoy the company of all the volunteers who come with great energy and enthusiasm. We guarantee a lot of laughter, ample food and satisfaction when you se how great our Odell Station will look at the end of a clean-up day. All are welcome!
We are going to be working again with the Missouri Neon Preservation Committee to ask for a National Parks grant for the Ariston. “Back in the day” the Ariston had neon in its windows. We are hoping to get a matching grant to fix and restore the Ariston’s vertical neon signs that hand above the green neon “Ariston” sign and restore the original neons in the front windows of the restaurant. This would be the fourth project that the Route 66 Association of Illinois and Route 66 Association of Missouri would have collaborated on under the expert guidance of Jim Thole of Missouri. State Associations can work together well because keeping the original places authentic is the passion of all Associations and their members.
Our Association tries to work with and respond to requests made about impact on the road in Illinois. Route 53/Historic 66 is dealing with being part of the world’s largest inland truck port/hub in the Elwood area and area residents are dealing with trucks and a quality of life issue. We have been contacted to be involved with returning the Monarch butterfly to our region. We are involved with the High Speed Rail and its effects on Route 66 communities. We are seeing a resurgence of involvement with Joliet’s Route 66 roots. We’ve seen a re-interest in the communities of Bloomington/Normal and Lincoln as well.
The Blue Carpet Corridor from Chathamn down to Collinsville is gearing up for their festival that runs the second weekend of June (same as the Motor Tour) and is back to a two day festival. June 9 and 10. More information will be on our website as it is available to post.
Thank you for your continued support of all the towns, villages and cities along the Road. We have 91 communities that need economic support and Roadie love. When people tell me “66” is old news and who cares, I point out all the tourism we have. I point to Brennan Matthew’s new magazine ROUTE, which chose Route 66 as its topic for its launch (firsh printing) and it sold out immediately. Route 66 is not a fad’ it’s an experience.
Next time you have a life-ached there is nothing better than the two lane and a hand stirred Coke at Doc’s in Girard. Maybe you need to try a cold brew coffee at the Coffee and Scones Shop in Pontiac. Sooon it will be Maple Sirup time in Funks Grove; visit the Funk family as they naturally process the maple sirup and share their history of making sirup right there on the premeises.
Looking forward to an amazing spring and summer with you.
Cathie Stevanovich, President