Seasons come and seasons go, and I am oh so ready for this 2018-2019 winter to be over.
My mom used to tell me all the time that everything has a season and it’s not always a good season but it will eventually pass. Since Christmas, I have attended three funerals for my ’66 Family: Mike Cummings, Willie Anderson and Dee Pincsak, and one for my real extended family. I had been notified about another passing of a great friend of ’66, George Leone.
I also ended up in the hospital myself and thanks to an amazing paramedic team and wonderful care at the hospital, I (in Ernie Edward’s terms) lived to tell. With time comes adjustments and I am certainly learning/trying to adjust. I had sepsis and didn’t know until I shoveled some snow at work and set off a chain of physical reactions.
It’s been a hard winter for tourists all up and down the road – we weren’t the only ones experiencing bad winter weather. Parts of Arizona saw snow in areas it hadn’t been seen in years! The visitor numbers at our museum were down but now it’s March so they wil start going up again. This is the time of year we have an upswing in school visits and our curator, John Wille, has been putting together some fun activities for this year’s students. The Bob Waldmire bus has been closed for the winter and will reopen to visitors on May 4th during the Red Carpet Corridor weekend.
The Red Carpet Corridor tour will officially be just one day this year – Saturday, May 4th, however some of the Red Carpet communities may have activities on Sunday, May 5th as well.
This year’s collectible is a magnet, and the communities will have them available AFTER the festival as well. Look for your Red Carpet Corridor brochure and all the directions and information are available in it. The website to check out locations and activities is www.ilroute66redcarpetcorridor.com. This year Smokey the Bear will be 75 years old and will be featured at the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. Towanda will have their annual car show and fabulous Pin-Up contest just to name a few events!
We are working on the 2019 Motor Tour – this year’s tour goes north to south and our overnight in Lincoln includes our Hall of Fame dinner with Chef Wentlandt providing a fantastic Roadie dinner at our banquet. We will be at the American Legion for our meal which is located next to the Best Western hotel. Our board has been working on providing a lot of “news” for the tour as well as some favorites. We look forward to this tour, aptly titled, “Life in the Slow Lane.” We are celebrating 30 years as an association! We will be visiting a private auto collection, several “new” museum stops, and the tour will conclude in Litchfield this year.
This is the last year of the National Parks Service Route 66 corridor Act. This Act will be sunsetting this year and our association is working on a nomination. Over the years, Illinois has had the opportunity to use these Federal grants for many of our preservation projects. The Ariston in Litchfield will be relighting their original/rebuilt/repaired neon window lighting soon. The original window neon repairs are the latest project of the joint efforts of the Route 66 of Missouri Neon Preservation Committee and our Route 66 Association of Illinois to get a National Parks grant. Other grants received for neon repairs were for the Vic Suhling sign (Litchfield), the Del Rhea Chicken Basket sign (Willowbrook), and the beautiful rainbow-colored neon at the Luna Care (Mitchell).
Our award-winning Preservation Committee has some work days coming up – and “We work for food!” so come out and get dirty, laugh, and make our icons clean and fresh for the upcoming Route 66 travelers!
The Road Ahead just held their annual meeting and we will be publishing details on our website and in the nest newsletter. This committee has been working with representatives of all eight states and has been working hard to establish committees and put in place guidelines to help all eight states with preservation and economic development. The National Trail is alive again in Washington, D.C., and we are ever hopeful that this will pass. Just as each state has taken care of their Mother Road miles individually, the entire road needs to be under the care of the National Parks Service to Make sure its historic story never fades. We aren’t losing our miles, we will be protecting the work that’s been done and we will continue to assist Illinois’ 91 Route 66 communities.
Mark your calendars for June 22 and 23. Our Association will be co-sponsoring (with the city of Pontiac) Cheryl Jett’s play, “Aprons Away,” at the Eagle Theatre in Pontiac. This will be a free performance. Association members can reserve a seat in advance – details will be posted in May on how to reserve a free ticket and the show times on Saturday and Sunday afternoon. This is to celebrate our Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum’s 15th anniversary in Pontiac. More information will be available via an email newsletter and on our website and Facebook page with we have all the details worked out.
We all look forward to Spring! Before you “honey do” lists get filled out, take a few hours and get out on the road! Holly and Tully have done amazing work at the Launching Pad/Gemini Giant in Wilmington. There’s a lot of new businesses and restaurants in the Bloomington/NOrmal area. It’s almost Sirup time at Funks Grove! Take a photo at the Williamsville Public Library corner photo opp! Don’t forget to stop at the Litchfield Route 66 Museum (and stop for hash browns at Jubelt’s across the street).
Sunny days are coming and I can’t wait to complain about the heat! Be safe, be strong!
President, Route 66 Association of Illinois