Attention Route 66 Association of Illinois members! We’re sorry to inform you that there’s a delay in the mailing out of the Spring 2020 issue of our members-only newsletter, The 66 News. We know you’ve been expecting it to arrive in your mailbox any day now, so we wanted to let you know that it will be later this time. We’re in contact with the Post Office to track down the problem and hopefully it will be resolved soon. In the meantime, we’d like to extend a friendly long distance wave and say we hope you and yours are remaining safe and healthy.
Author: Editor Gina
We are currently experiencing a life altering event – something that we have no control over. We are told to “stay in place” and if we do go out, to keep at least 6 feet of space from the next person. Paper towels and toilet paper are difficult to find, and big Plexiglas shields are on the registers at. grocery stores if you do venture out. More people have died of this virus as of March 31st, in the United States, then died on 9/11.
Many of us were told by our employers that our jobs were being closed for the duration, restaurants closed, town halls/village centers closed, because of a virus. It’s scary and its unknown – and the one thing that everyone can do to help control it is social distancing.
Due to the State “stay in place” mandate and the posted Federal guidelines, we are cancelling the April 19th Quarterly meeting in Litchfield. We ask our members to stay home and stay safe.The Red Carpet Corridor event, with the communities from Joliet to Towanda, scheduled for May 2nd, has been cancelled due to current “shelter in place” mandates and concern for public safety. The entire event has been moved to May 1st, 2021.
We are cancelling the 2020 Motor Tour. Our Board has worked very hard to put together a great tour with some new places to go and another great Hall of Fame Banquet in Lincoln at the American Legion, food by Chef Wentland. We are moving the entire tour to 2021 – the 2nd weekend of June – June 11th, 12th, and 13th. We will celebrate our 30th Motor Tour at that time – starting South and heading North utilizing everything we had planned for this year. With the current health situation in our country, and an extended “shelter in place” order we feel that although 80% of the Motor Tour is in your own car on the road, the 20% of community events/activities could be dangerous. If even one person got sick on the Motor Tour it’s not just one – the exposure will be there and we value our members too much to put them at risk. So we ask that this year you stay home but make sure you mark your 2021 calendar for the 30th Annual Motor Tour. We had such a great time last year we booked the American Legion hall and caterer, Chef Wentland, for the next 2 years so we are assured a venue and lots of great food.
In the meantime, take care of yourself and your family and friends.
Someday we’ll look back at this and remember those that gave their all in hospitals all over the country taking care of others who couldn’t take care of themselves. We’ll tell stories of hospital tents at McCormack Place where the Car Shows usually were, about restaurants being closed and of toilet paper and paper towels as being impossible to find. We’ll chat again, 6 feet apart, and think nothing of it.
We invite you to put on your calendar our Route 66 Association of Illinois Annual Picnic, August 16th from 11:30 a.m. to ??? The Association will supply meat, pop, water, and please bring something to share. It’s at the Sugar Grove Preserve in Shirley, Illinois, and it is in a covered pavilion.
This was a tough decision made by the entire Board of Directors for all our safety.
When the health threat subsides, please remember to support the 91 communities along Route 66. Take a Sunday Drive, order take-out, fill up your tank with gas, while cruising with your windows down – face masks optional. Stay well, be careful.
Cathie Stevanovich, President
Route 66 Association of Illinois
Available soon for purchase!
Never in 15 years has this been replica produced!
Aluminum 12″ x 18″ Historic Illinois Route 66 Sign.
American, Union made.
Pricing and shipping to be announced.
Baby, it’s cold outside! It’s dark early and cold and everything is gray and I can’t believe this year just flew by! So much to be thankful and grateful for, so many people helping out and giving their time and energy to our Association and to the Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum.
There is construction everywhere – it’s long been Illinois fifth season – you know, Summer, Winter, Spring, Fall and Construction. Everywhere there are road crews fixing, changing or repairing. Sos much commotion and change that we’re incorporating it into our 2020 Motor Tour. Our 30th annual Motor Tour: “Life is a Highway.”
We are traveling south to north, the tour will include a double cross of the Chain of Rocks Bridge and then we’ll be traveling far and wide as we head north. Our overnight will be in Lincoln with Chef Wendtland providing amazing food and we’ve pre-booked the American Legion Hall again as it was such a perfect venue last year. Mark your calendars now – the second full weekend of June, the 12th, 13th and 14th.
It wasn’t that long ago that many of us gathered in the old fire station in Pontiac in December, 2003 and held a simple ceremony to start the Route 66 Hall off Fame and Museum. We huddled together on that snowy day to christen our future home. We opened to the public officially in June, 2004 and 15 years later we’re going strong. The Road itself has provided us with additions to our displays and we are proud to provide a wonderful museum where everyone is welcome to come and see the past, present and future of Route 66. The tourism season is slowing down for a little while although we’ve had many Illinois families visit the museum, incorporating the visit with a family reunion, sports tournament or staycation. We are now open winter hours (10:00 A.M to 4:00 P.M.
Many businesses along the road are closing – and new ones opening. We have seen over the last 10 years more Route 66 communities utilizing their Route 66roots to add to their local history. We will be seeing a big change in some of the smaller communities. Pontiac will be the home to a huge car-only gas station with over 70 gas pumps, and Atlanta is working on developing a major truck stop off I-55. Elwood continues to be the home of the world’s largest inland port which means endless truck traffic. Joliet recently annexed more land where more warehouses will be built. Although they are building a diamond-style exit off I-80 with a major new truck stop before the exit to Chicago Road (IL53/Hwy 66), the truck traffic is still pretty intimidating to many Roadies as they start their adventures coming out of Joliet. It wasn’t that long ago when talk/meetings concerning the Illiana toll road were being held and discussions about how aa new toll road would benefit/impact all the communities in its path. I attended many meetings regarding the effects on towns, cemeteries, ancient burial grounds, current businesses, family farms, all that lay in the path of this progressive road. It’s just a story in the past now, and communities are looking for new ways to maintain their character yet expand their financial base.
As 2019 winds to a close, I want to thank all those who gave their time, energy, membership or support that enabled our Association to finish the year strong. Our award-winning Preservation Committee continues to provide advice and help where we can throughout the state. It’s one of the few crews where laughter and getting your hands dirty is a big part of why our preservation projects are so successful. We know the trick is maintenance, maintenance, maintenance, but we have such a great time doing it. We work for food and it doesn’t get better than saving a piece of history for tomorrow and somewhere there’s fabulous sandwiches or chicken dinners and homemade desserts of lots of conversation.
We look forward to spring – the preservation work days, the Red Carpet Corridor (first weekend in May) and then on to the 300+ car shows and festivals up and down the road. For now we’ll have to hunker down and conserve our energy for cold winter mornings and snowy nights. Time for the family traditions and New Year resolutions. Time to be grateful for all those that were an important part of our lives and the stories of the Mother Road, and time to enjoy and share the stories of those we still can. A big thank you to Mayor Bob Russell for all his Route 66 hands-on “mayoring” in Pontiac and we wish him well in his retirement. Another thank you to Bill Kelly from the Route 66 Scenic Byway who recently retired. Bill will remain active on our Road Ahead initiative so we are happy he’s not completely leaving his 66 roots as he moves out east to start his retirement.
On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Route 66 Association of Illinois, I extend to you our warmest and sincerest wishes for a safe, happy, healthy holiday season. If you get a little cabin fever, get out and support the small businesses along the road.
Looking forward to an interesting 2020 with you!
Cathie Stevanovich, President
Route 66 Association of Illinois
On our Association’s Facebook page, we recently asked folks to share their favorite Illinois Route 66 places in 2019. We received lots of photos in response, so we thought we’d share them here. Enjoy this slideshow of favorites from this last year!
Fall – Autumn – Indian Summer – I really don’t know what to expect this year! We had a strange Spring, a summer that was hot and wet, we’re moving into a Fall that’s hot, wet and with cooler nights and I am so not ready for Winter. It seems overnight the trees have shades of red and gold in them, the crops are high and tasseled, the soy plants bushy and dark green. Lots to do and so little time. I think I’m going to call a moratorium on being “ready” for anything.
It’s been eight years since we welcomed the Bob Waldmire bus to our Pontiac museum. During this time we’ve had countless personalities – public and private – come to tour Bob’s “house.” Sometimes the visitors come in quietly, amazed by what’s inside, and after some lengthly looking around and asking questions, people sit down and ask more questions or take the time to share with the volunteers on the bus a story about Bob, or about meeting Bob, or seeing a video of Bob on their computers.
It’s never Mr Waldmire, it’s always “Bob” in a respectful tone. Many people who come through the bus share their story – their own personal health issues, their own personal battle with cancer, or they share why they are on a journey on 66 and how this bus is important to them. I had a gentleman from France in the bus this past Saturday who told me about his trials and issues with cancer, and how he struggled to be healthy enough to make the Route 66 tour he had planned two years earlier when he was healthy. He had read up on Bob and his lifestyle and felt that visiting the bus would give him the strength to go home and make sweeping changes in his life as he felt he was being drawn to do. After sitting in the bus reflecting on the simplicity of Bob’s house, he turned to me and said he wasn’t sure he could give up everything for the life he felt called to lead. I suggested he modify his expectations and take smaller steps and I assured him small steps are just as risky as large ones – thankfully he laughed with me, and after meditating for a while he left. I sincerely hope he finds health and peace and his path in life. Bob was an ordinary man who followed his heart which led to extraordinary relationships with a lot of people. Route 66 people are special – they have a lot to share if you let them.
We had a great tour, and a Summer full of volunteers at the museum and on the bits and pieces of preservation projects we have along the road.
As the weather changes, I want to remind everyone that starting November 1st through March 31st, the Museum hours are 10:00 AM -4:00 PM. The bus will be closed for the winter as well.
The Preservation Committee will be moving our traveling exhibits back into the Funks Grove Rest Stop soon. The geothermal heating/cooling has never worked quite like it was supposed to – and the excess condensation threatened our display. John Weiss and a crew from Preservation safely stored our 66 gear away – and now that the rest stop is “fixed,” volunteers will spend a day setting up the two displays again. This is the busiest rest stop in Illinois and we’re anxious to share our Mother Road miles with those headed north or south.
Route 66 means so much to so many people whether it’s about freedom, or a bucket list, a final “waltz” down the two lane – whatever, the road has aa story for everyone on it. Did you ever share your story?
It’s that time of the year for Hall of Fame nominations! If you know any business, service, destination, place or person who has contributed to the road in Illinois, please share their story! There is an outline of Hall of Fame rules on our website; it’s available by request from me and there are printed copies at the Hall of Fame museum (see page 20)! Don’t let another year go by when you feel that there is something in Illinois that needs to be honored and become part of our Hall of Fame. Don’t wait until that place or person is gone!
In October there will be an election for our Association’s officers. I want to thank all the county representatives for their efforts and time spent this last two years working on Illinois (and National) projects. The National Parks program is scheduled to “sunset” this year, and we are hopeful the National Trail will be passed in Washington and our eight state roadway will become a National Trail and be protected in the future. It doesn’t mean that the 66 Associations will no longer need to exist as guardians of their state miles, it just means that in case future generations don’t step forward for our Illinois miles, we will not be dismantled. It won’t be new bypasses or alignments. It will mean maintenance on our existing roads, and reverence for the future We are an aging population, and as much as we encourage younger participation in our Association, we need to be realistic that the National Trail will carry on when our Association’s members are too old or not physically able to do the maintenance that preservation requires. It’s not money, money, money – it’s time, time, time and healthy joints and muscles. The Road Ahead is getting stronger and more cohesive and will enable all eight states and nine Associations to work will with each other and promote economic development and tourism. Those are not Association’s job or goals, this is a national team effort to realize that going forward will need to utilize grants and work together to provide funding for places along the road.
The coming year will be a big one as we work on our local preservation project and look to help surrounding communities with theirs. I totally appreciate all the help and good will that’s been given to me over the years. The City of Pontiac has been a faithful and proactive partner in helping us make an empty building into a home for our museum. The use/reuse of building in town to add to the museum complex has given Pontiac the reputation of being a great Route 66 town to visit. I am always excited when talking with people and they casually mention that this is their second, or fourth and with one woman, her ninth trip through Pontiac, Illinois because she found the city to be the most “real.” So a huge thank you to Bob Karls and the City of Pontiac, to our docents, Rose and Mary Ann, and to the incredible John Wille who as a curator holds it all together.
So go and enjoy the season of change, put off ’til tomorrow what you can and get a few more miles in some place on the road. Whether its soup and sandwich at Horsefeathers in Elkhart, or amazing breakfast hash browns at Jubelt’s in Litchfield, or singing karaoke at the Luna Cafe in Mitchell, get out! Savor the rustling leaves and warm sunshine!
I remind you that Route 66 was built on the dream of a better day, that hard work and service and respect never goes out of style There is nothing better than a cruise down a tow lane to sooth your soul. Share your time and money with small businesses along the road – you dollar will go further and it will help keep our 91 Mother Road communities alive.
Until the snow flies, see you on the road!
Cathie Stevanovich, President
Route 66 Association of Illinois
Due to an abundance of caution and concern for the welfare of us all, we’ve cancelled this year’s Motor Tour that was scheduled for June.
We’ll see you next year, June 11, 12 & 13, for Motor Tour 2021!
Be safe and healthy!
Lisa Jones and Steve Stovicek getting ready to head down to Edwardsville Illinois from Joliet to begin the 2018 Route 66 Motor Tour.
The 6th Annual Get Your 6.6 on Route 66 run/walk from Funks Grove to McLean will be held Saturday, August 24, 2019.
The finish line is (as it’s always been) at the old water tower in McLean, and we’re excited to announce that this year as the participants make their triumphant finishes they will be able to observe another triumph of this event: the beginnings of a new small park area under the water tower.
CORE of McLean, in cooperation with the Village of McLean, have begun work on this new community area and are pleased to be able to present it those who have helped us make it a reality. It is ideally situated along the official Route 66 bike path, and we plan to have a bike rack, table, and bench in place by the date of the event. Innovative creation of shade and shelter using the base of the water tower and landscaping with trees and flowering perennials will be forthcoming this fall and next spring.
We are well on our way to our goal of 200+ participants with 178 registrants—please help us spread the word so we can surpass our goal!
Please feel free to contact me with any questions or for an interview.
President, CORE of McLean
Race Director, Get Your 6.6 on Route 66!