|Left to right, Angel Delgadillo, the living legend, Michael Wallis of the Route 66 Alliance and anacclaimed author, and author Jim Hinckley.|
The beauty of this festival is the simple fact that it is truly a manifestation of the essence, of the spirit of Route 66. The entire event suffered from the extensive use of duct tape, bubble gum, and bailing wire in its development.
The original organizers did nothing to offer leadership, a cohesive sense of direction, and even less to grasp early promotional opportunities. Then they quit.
The festival then became the problem child of the chamber of commerce. Just as development began picking up steam, the chamber director relocated to California.
There was never a functional website. Few press releases were ever issued. A litany of issues resulted.
|The one and only Melba with Kumar Patel of the Wigwam Motel in Rialto.|
There was, however, the Route 66 community and the igniting of passion in Kingman. A call for volunteers to assist in downtown clean up resulted in more than 300 people turning out on a Saturday morning, A similar call packed a meeting room to the point of overflowing into the hallway. Social media, email, on line forums and message boards, posters distributed along Route 66 by Dora and Kurt all fueled a growing sense of contagious enthusiasm and excitement in the Route 66 community.
|The crowd gathers for the walk of fame dedication.|
|The reception at the Powerhouse Visitor Center.|
Last night the unique passion, spirit, and essence of the 2,100 mile Route 66 community was made manifest in the grand opening for this years 2014 Route 66 International Festival. It kicked off with the dedication of the Route 66 Walk of Fame honoring the people who contributed to development of Route 66 and its transition from highway to icon including John and Lenore Weiss, David and Marylou Knudson, Michael Wallis, Angel Delgadillo, and Bob Waldmire to name a few. This was followed with a simple presentation by Kaisa Barthuli, program manager of the National Park Service Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program. Awards were given to the owner of the Route 66 Motel and Hilltop Motel.
The festivities seemed to grow in passionate intensity with the reception at the Powerhouse Visitor Center, and then moved out into the community as folks continued the festivities of what amounts to an oversized family reunion at restaurants throughout the city. As my vacation time was rescinded, my dearest friend and I made it an early evening after a wonderful dinner at El Palacio shared with the Lile’s of Amarillo, Jerry McClanahan, our intrepid friend from the Ukraine that I mistakenly thought was from Russia, Kumar Patel, Jim and Kathe Owen, Rich Dinkela, Nick Gerlich, and host of other associates that filled half of the restaurant.
|Author Akio Takeuchi and his family from Japan withJerry McClanahan.|
Today an effort will be made to balance obligations at the office and issues associated with its closing, with those made to festival organizers and attendees. It should be quite interesting.
The slate of activities include day one of the Route 66 Crossroads of the Past and Future Conference (700 W. Beale Street) that will be televised live on the Mohave County Board of Supervisors Youtube channel. The film festival continues (corner of Oak and Fourth Street), the authors and artist exhibition opens at the Beale Street Event Center, the electric vehicle exhibition at the Powerhouse opens, and tonight the Road Crew performs at Locomotive Park.
|Joe Sonderman and Jerry McClanahan.|
Then, on Saturday, the crescendo begins with a flourish of activities, excitement, and fun.