The history of Route 66 did not begin in 1926, nor did it end with its removal from the list of U.S. highways in 1985. Just as the origins of the double six predate its certification by centuries in some locations, the roads future will postdate its official demise by decades, provided the Route 66 community continues to foster a sense of stewardship.
Angel Degadillo, Michael Wallis, Jim Ross, Shellee Graham, Bob Waldmire, Bob and Ramona Lehman and countless others wrote future history stories about this legendary highway in the 1980’s when they laid the foundation for its renaissance. What we do as a community in 2014 will be the history talked about during the centennial celebration.
See, Route 66 is more than a mere highway. It is a portal between the past and future as well as a massive time capsule with each generation making contributions.
From that perspective I am rather confident that in the centennial year of 2026 the recent symposium in Anaheim will be viewed as a pivotal moment in the highways history. The ideas discussed, partnerships forged, and enthusiasm generated will have a tremendous impact on the highways transformation in the coming months.
We begin by focusing on key points in the future, and utilizing them as target dates for devising the means to build cooperative enterprises that foster developmental, promotional, and preservation endeavors. The centennial would be one such point. Another would be the Route 66 International Festival scheduled for the weekend of August 16.
For just a moment lets turn the imagination loose. What could we accomplish if the date and location for the 2015 festival were announced by January 1, 2014, and a similar announcement were made for each subsequent festival? What type of cooperative partnerships could be formed as a result? How would this affect the acquisition of corporate sponsorship? As a catalyst for revitalization and community development, what affect would this have?
Perhaps we should move this from the world of the imagination into the realm of reality. Perhaps we should craft a template for the future in 2014.
The theme for the 2014 festival is Kingman and Route 66 as the crossroads of the past and future. Plans are to build on that theme by showcasing alternative energy vehicles of the past, present and future, and related infrastructure.
A collector has committed to bringing a 1902 Studebaker electric. What type of international attention could be focused on Route 66 if enough collectors of historic and electric steam powered cars were in attendance to warrant a Route 66 parade? What if we also had solar powered cars, GEM cars, golf carts, hybrids, and similar vehicles participating? Now, imagine if we could organize one cruise from Los Angeles to the festival in Kingman, and another from Chicago?
Not only would we have media attention for the festival as well as Route 66, we would have the opportunity to present Route 66 as a linear community with special events organized in every community town along the way. But why stop with alternative energy vehicles?
What about Model A Ford clubs or Hudson clubs or…? Why not community convoys to the festival?
What if businesses along Route 66 promoted a discount to groups traveling to the festival? How about tours along Route 66 to the festival? What if the chamber of commerce rolled out the red carpet for groups representing communities that are traveling to the festival?
So, how do we put these plans into action? Who wants to organize a cruise to Kingman? Who wants to roll out the red carpet in their town? Who would be interested in a Route 66 tour?