As I start my end of the year letter, I am reminded of all the people who have come in and out of my life this year, including hundreds of emails from fans of 66, companies, members, soon-to-be Route 66 roadies… We all have much to be thankful for and so I will start my final 2015 President’s message with a H-U-G-E thank you to the most amazing Route 66 community. I am happy, excited and proud to be part of the fabric of this amazing road!
I am grateful for my Route 66 Association of Illinois Board of Directors and Committee, for the 91 communities along Route 66 in Illinois that take care of their share of the road, and for the many groups such as the Red Carpet Corridor and the Blue Carpet Corridor that are joining together to help each other through these tough economic times. What better way to share your history, passion and the story of your community than by hosting a festival? It’s hard work by everyone year ’round that makes those two day weekends amazing, fun and seemingly effortless. The key word is “seemingly.”
There will certainly be changes on the Mother Road in 2016. Not only are there jobs scheduled and high speed rail intersection changes that will be started, but there will be changes in what Route 66 communities have money for. There is still no set budget in Springfield. Washington has a fair share of new Congressmen and Senators who will be looking at cutting funding to special interest groups and I am sure that means any Route 66 preservation projects will be looked at very carefully.
The “Road Ahead” committee that formed in 2013 is moving ahead carefully to incorporate the ideas shared by 66ers in all eight states during a fact-finding road trip. The week-long trip included Bill Thomas, Chairman, (Atlanta, Illinois), Aaron Mahr, Superintendent of the NPS National Trails Region, Kaisa Barthuli, Program Manager, NPS Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program, and John Conoboy “brainstorming” with over 300 “66” people representing such interests as business, economic development and tourism. The eclectic mix was handled with grace and wisdom by members of the Steering Committee.
We lost Bill Shea’s museum, but many bits and pieces of it have made their way to new places, and other parts will be relocated to a new site in Springfield. Our museum in Pontiac, the Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum, was gifted the “pole sign” that stood in Shea’s. Next time you see Roamin’ Rich, tell him, Thank you!” We are grateful for this wonderful “sign of our times.”
Before weathermen decided they could call the winters mild or strong, warm or cold, we had “winter.” We didn’t know about air circulation patterns, or artic air, we just knew “winter.” Grey skies mean snow, ice, or both; clear skies meant a nice day that could be cold. When it was pitch black outside at 4 p.m because of the end of daylight savings time, the world always seemed colder and the winds bitter. The stars on those nights seemed so bright; but as beautiful as it could be, my thoughts were/are always “one day closer to spring.”
So let’s think spring: Museum deep-cleaning and Preservation Workdays! Odell Station always needs a work day before the new tourist season opens! Preservation workdays will be listed on our website. Remember we work for food and the food is always plentiful!
Red Carpet Corridor is the first weekend in May – this year it’s May 6th! The 90 miles of fun, adventure and history continues to grow each year!
Motor Tour planning is underway. This year’s tour, always the second full weekend of June, (June 10, 11th and 12th this year) is south to north so we will be taking in some Saturday events of the second annual Blue Carpet Corridor event. Our overnight for our Hall of Program and Banquet will be in Carlinville. We’re also working on some NEW and exciting Sunday events!
Pontiac, our home base and sponsor city, has opened a theatre/conference center and will be breaking ground for a new Hampton Inn Hotel!
We will be working on our website and with our 66 communities to revamp and renew our internet presence over the next few months. We are proud of our newsletter and of our authors who submit their work. Photos and articles are always welcome – contact our editor, Gina Blitstein. If you want to volunteer some time at the Hall of Fame and Museum in Pontiac, let John Wille know. Volunteers are needed during winter hours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays to help meet and greet visitors.
A special thank you to Jim Jones for coordinating and fine tuning our glossy brochure. We were able to print 78,000! Thanks to John Weiss for going out and preselling them, and then delivering them to many communities as well. Thanks to Ike Widner for his assistance also. We have one of the finest promotional maps, highlighting all that is along our 66 miles!
I would like to end my letter with a request: Take time out of your day and just sit and take a deep breath. We’re all so busy we forget to give ourselves a moment or two. Enjoy this holiday season remembering that its family and friends and people and places that make our lives rich and build our memories. We really do have so much to be thankful for.
On behalf of the Route 66 Association of Illinois Board of Directors and its Executive Committee, I wish each and everyone a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year. Thank you for helping us with your memberships, donations and your volunteer hours to take care of our 400 Mother Road miles in Illinois. Thank you for helping us spread the joy and story of the spirit of service that is Route 66. On this cold December evening, I tip my cup of hot cocoa (with marshmallows) in your honor. Happy Holidays!
Cathie Stevanovich, President