First, I would like to thank the members of the Association for having the faith in me to elect me as your new president. I will do my utmost to make sure your votes were not in vain. I have many ideas that I hope to employ over the coming months, ones I believe will serve to enhance the Association and elevate it even higher than all of you, members and board, have pushed it. Next, I would like to thank Cathie Stevanovich for her years of dedicated service to the organization, the last 16 of which she served as President. I know she will continue to contribute in whatever way she is able, including her new position of Corresponding Secretary. She has raised the bar for all of us that follow her.
While we will soon celebrate the centennial of Route 66, something all of us look forward to and intend to make the most of, there are still many hurdles to overcome. We are still recovering from the pandemic and some economic challenges, but we are a hardy bunch and can overcome these issues. Already we have seen recovery in tourism and again see Route 66 visitors, foreign and domestic, hitting the road. Even in advance of the 100th birthday, things are looking up. But we must not be complacent. There are still efforts to be made in preserving vestiges of Route 66. It’s a never-ending battle with the elements and “modernization” of the environment. We must also continue educating people about the history of The Mother Road in whatever way we can. We have the Museum and Hall of Fame, as well as online resources, but don’t be afraid to share your knowledge of the road with others, even if it’s only letting them know there is an organization they can join that is fun AND informative. If you have stories or knowledge to share, our quarterly magazine, The 66 News, would be an excellent place to start. We also welcome contributions to our online sites, including our Facebook page.
At the time of this writing, there is new movement regarding the Launching Pad in Wilmington that we are keeping an eye on. This important icon of the Route, coupled with the Gemini Giant, is a major attraction for travelers of the road, especially those from overseas, and we hope that it will soon rejoin its place as a welcoming and fun spot for Route 66 adventurers. We are also watching the developments regarding the historic water tower in McLean, hoping for its preservation and for it to remain a monument for McLean and the people that constructed this rare style of construction of which fewer and fewer examples remain.
As many of you know, we hold an annual meeting every October when our elections are held. But we also hold an additional three quarterly meetings of the board and general membership. I’d like to see more folks come out to our general membership meetings, and not just for the annual elections. It gives the board and members the chance to meet each other, but to also exchange ideas and experiences. Our meetings and their locations are available on our website, and we encourage participation whenever you are able. We hold other events as well, and not just the Motor Tour – join us and join in the fun! And this brings up an important point – do you have suggestions for communities along 66, large and small? Share them with us; you can do so at those quarterly meetings or through the use of the contact pages on our website.
Speaking of the Motor Tour, we have some exciting changes coming for the next couple of years leading up to the centennial. Keep an eye open for more news regarding our tours for 2024 and 2025.
I look forward to things that are going on not only in our state, but others, from the development at the Chain of Rocks Bridge in Missouri, to the recently announced amusement park rising near Vinita, Oklahoma. These are all signs of good things to come for Route 66. Let’s hope for even more!
Again, thank you for your confidence in me – let’s work together to move forward towards the big party in 2026 – and beyond.
Dwight M. Cannon, President
Route 66 Association of Illinois