The world is slowly coming back – our black and white stay-inside-until-it;-ok world is like a Ted Turner classic movie. It’s being colorized and we now have periwinkle skies and everyone has a little blush on their cheeks. People who were truly frightened by getting sick – or sharing it with their loved ones have gotten their shots and finally feel safe. Driving home from work I was amazed at how packed every store is. I drove past our local car show and not only were the cars on display packed in (with social distancing but packed) there were huge crowds floating around the cars. Nice to see people out and smiling.
We’re smiling because we were able to have our Motor Tour this year. Originally our tour was planned for 2020 and then shelved and adapted for a more self-contained 2021 tour. Not too many stops that require outside the care and waiting in line, more actual on-the-road time and allowing for some self-directed exploring. When we started planning this tour we weren’t’ sure what the state rules would be. Our mini-cruise on April 17th broke the ice and 35 cars showed up. Between mask sales and donations and cruise card sales, we raised $1,000 for the Mill. We had a great day one the road and a sneak preview of the updated Mill. Best of all, we had a sunny day on Route 66.
Our museum attendance has slowly gained momentum as staycations and day t rips are becoming more common again. Our museum hours will be 10:00 am to 4:00 pm through the end of the year. I personally feel that we’re not quite out of the Covid woods yet – but if we continue to be careful, wash our hands, sanitize with safe sanitizer or wet wipes, and get some vitamin D (either sun or supplements), we’ll be ok.
There are new businesses popping up along the road and long time businesses struggling to reopen. So many communities are reorganizing their annual events and on Memorial Day there were many mini parades and events to celebrate those who served our country and those who gave their lives. I encourage everyone to remember to thank veterans whenever and wherever for their service. A simple thank you means so much to those who served and those who continue to serve.
There are multiple small festivals being planned along the road and you will see pockets where new ev ents will bloom this year. (There were events that were cancelled this year and will be held in 2022 instead.) If you are looking for adventure, remember there are 91 communities along 66 in Illinois, many of which are starting to switch to high gear. Litchfield has an amazing lineup of monthly events, from festivals to monthly Picker’s Markets! Don’t forget the SkyView Drive-in for a real night of fun! The Chicken Basket in Willowbrook has been having Trivia Nights and Open Mic nights and various dinners! The Gemini Giant has reopened and expanded their menu! Assorted ice cream places and creameries along the road call for an indulgent ice cream cone (or two!). Pontiac has music “Rockin’ at the River” on Saturday nights, and Picker’s Markets and car shows! Odell Station is opened for the season! After a year of stay home and stay safe – I encourage you to continue to stay safe, but get out on the road! You NEED this! Netflix/Hulu/Discovery+ will wait patiently for your return!
The Bob Waldmire bus will remain closed this year however we will have a notebook with all the pictures of the inside of the bus when we first received it back in 2010 available for our visitors to look through. We opened it up to the public during Red Carpet 2011 and the last 10 years we’ve have entertained thousands in Bob’s house.
We are working on our Facebook and website to provide more information for day trips and events as well.
As we venture out on the two lane, more organized activities and businesses will be coming our way. For now, we can take a deep breath, relax and – for lack of a better word – frolic. We can put the worry we all felt on the side and take a bold step back into life. Frolic means to more cheerfully, excitedly or energetically. Let’s move! Rich Henry always says, “a body in motion stays in motion.” We can remember those family members and friends we’ve lost with gratitude for the gift of their friendship and the shared laughter – and move forward with great enthusiasm into the remaining 2021.
Looking forward to seeing you on the road –
President, Route 66 Association of Illinois