We’ve had a very nice fall, almost “too” nice so we’re spoiled. Tonight the wind is howling, the temperatures are dropping and winter is getting ready to come and stay for a while. I hate the early dark at 4 p.m. and everyday I tell anyone who’ll listen that we’re one day closer to Spring.
To every thing there is a season. For the Mother Road – our tourism season does get quiet in December but we’ve always had a lot of International visitors at the museum during the New Year holiday. “Season” starts again in late March, April for sure. We just have to deal with a few months of cold and snow and we’ll be back on the Road again.
This has been a fast year – winter, then Spring cleaning at the museum and at Odell Station, the Red Carpet corridor in May, and Motor Tour in June. Fourth of July, our August Association picnic, September was the Threshermen’s Reunion in Pontiac, the Basset Waddle in Dwight, and Springfield’s Mother Road Festival. October our annual elections and pumpkin chunkin’ in Girard. One day I am gonna build a monster catapult or cannon and be amazing in Girard! November starts the holidays and planning for next year.
We had the unveiling for the Riviera Restaurant and it was a beautiful day and a great turnout! If you never had the chance to eat at the Riviera, the Kraft’s daughter Laurie is selling their cookbook! It’s wonderful! Buy one of theirs (and one of ours too!).
The National Trail initiative is advancing, the Road Ahead is meeting regularly, and we are extremely lucky that our Illinois legislators acknowledge how important our Illinois Route 66 miles are.
In life there are events that happen that you always remember. Your first car, your first paycheck, the first time you hear a special song that speaks to your heart. I think Route 66 is one of those special “events” – as I talk with other Route 66 enthusiasts (fellow Roadies or Road Huggers) there is always a special place, or person, that brought the road alive for them. The heart of 66 lies in the people who appreciate what the road stands for. It was a road built on respect, progress, hard work, service, and ingenuity. Whether the locations along the road were real (museums), or an imaginative destination (private collections, drive-ins, or “world’s greatest (fill in the blank)” every one I meet on the road has a story of how they became involved with 66.
We all have a story to tell, and one thing about Route 66 people, they listen. They share. They laugh, They cry and/or commiserate. People come and go along the road but there is always the memory of moments that will never fade. What I love most about Route 66 people is that its like a family of choice. When we gather as a group and remember to put our phones down, it’s a great time to be with people who don’t care if you’re rich or poor. It doesn’t matter that you only have a few bucks for gas and so you didn’t go too far down the road. You still have places to stop and visit and meet people who are doing the same.
I encourage those who are interested in 66 to stop and walk around our 91 Route 66 communities. These communities need our support as they struggle to survive. You don’t know what’s there till you turn down the road and go into that town. I appreciate driving through some of the towns and reflecting how far they’ve come. When I first started visiting Pontiac (2003), the downtown area was quiet – and there were a lot of store fronts vacant. Now the entire downtown area stores are full – with new businesses and services. I was in Wilmington a few weeks ago and was amazed at all the businesses that are flourishing on Water Street.
Time changes everything even within our organization. We’ve had several Board members make life changes and retire from the Board – John Lucchesi, Neil Gale, Dorothy Seratt McMullen, and Kathy Goodman. We wish them well and know they’ll still make time for the Association when they can. We are biding our editor, Gina Blitstein, farewell as well. Gina will continue to work on our website, Facebook page, and Twitter account. We appreciate her hard work and efforts that made us more presentable to the world in the written word format.
Thanks to all of you, our members, for an amazing year on the road. We’ve laughed, we cried, we’ve said goodbye. We just lost Dawn Patterson, of DK’s Garage in Towanda. Dawn loved 66 people, and for over 16 years her garage played host to people from all over the world.
New people have come to the road – the Gemini Giant has been saved! DeCamp Junction was sold but was bought by people who knew its importance in the Staunton community and plan on keeping it the same – a great place for a beer, pizza, and softball fields. The Greenways has control of the Chain of Rocks bridge and will host our Saturday morning start of the 2018 Motor Tour.
Remember the Mother Road loves you, and you can always visit without calling first.
The Board of the Route 66 Association of Illinois wishes all of you a healthy, happy, and fabulous holiday season and an especially safe and healthy New Year.
Mother Road love is a great thing – it doesn’t run out, it stretches out and encompasses all of us equally. God bless us all!
Looking forward to a dynamic 2018 with you!
Cathie Stevanovich, President