From Chicago to Santa Monica, in towns and villages large and small, the dawning of a new era on Route 66 is taking place one community at a time. At the grassroots, the people that make this road so special and vibrant are transforming communities with murals and restored signs, by hosting events and with clean up projects, and with the forming of international partnerships as well as the renovation or preservation properties. In the process they are making Route 66, America’s longest attraction, the literal crossroads of the past and future.
Joining them in the initiative to preserve, promote, develop cooperative partnerships, and bring new life to this storied old highway are the state Route 66 associations, their international counterparts, the National Park Service, the World Monuments Fund, and assorted governmental organizations. These are truly exciting times!
Here in my adopted hometown, this years Route 66 International Festival seems to have awakened a sleeping giant. The chief of police and city manager initiated a series of meetings with a goal of keeping the excitement and momentum of the festival alive by transforming local events such as the Andy Devine Days Rodeo and parade, the county fair, and the monthly Chillin’ on Beale into attractions for a legion of international Route 66 enthusiasts.
It doesn’t end there. The owner of the historic Brunswick Hotel, a Swiss property developer that has a lengthy track record of accomplishments in Kingman and the surrounding area, including the creation of the Beale Celebrations (site of the authors exhibition during the festival), a housing development near Hackberry, and the transformation of a condemned La Salle dealership into a beautiful ice cream parlor and bakery on Route 66, will be meeting with city officials soon to present an ambitions plan for the transformation of the historic district.
Rich Dinkela (aka Roamin’ Rich, the Indiana Jones of the Route 66 community) informed me yesterday that he is moving forward with plans to launch a comprehensive Route 66 events website that will also serve as a promotional venue for businesses along the route. When complete, the Events on Route 66 site will do more than represent a tremendous opportunity, it will be a major step toward the blurring of state lines and the transformation of Route 66 into a linear community.
For two days this past August, the international Route 66 community came together as never before and shared ideas, enthusiasm, accomplishments, and frustrations in an unprecedented two day conference. In the coming months there is little doubt that seeds sown at this historic event will bring forth a tremendous harvest of creative thinking and the development of an array of cooperative partnerships. Enthusiasts from throughout the world will gather this weekend in the tiny desert hamlet of Goffs in California for the centennial celebration of the schoolhouse turned stunning museum complex. No town is to small to be overlooked in the rebirth of legendary Route 66.
To say that my dearest friend and I are eagerly anticipating an adventure on the double six and to see the transformation made manifest would be akin to saying that January in Duluth is chilly. There is inspiration and an infectious spirit of excitement along this road that is most invigorating. Unfortunately, even though it is almost in our backyard, we won’t be able to attend the festivities in Goffs. We will need to be patient as there are a litany of details to be resolved this weekend if we are to take to the road on Tuesday. The Goffs event marks the second time that schedule confliction and an array of pressing deadlines has prevented us from gathering with friends like Dean Kennedy but we fully intend to make up for this at Cuba Fest. First, there will be the Friday evening party at the Wagon Wheel Motel, and a traditional gathering of friends of the road at Missouri Hick. Then, on Saturday evening, the Road Crew will be performing at Belmont Winery east of Cuba. In addition to Cuba Fest, and my Route 66 Crossroads of the Past and Future presentation at the Route 66 State Park on October 19, plans also call for meeting with a few Route 66 association presidents to discuss what they would like to see from the World Monuments Fund steering committee, and what we can do as a community to foster development of cooperative partnerships. At this time the schedule calls for us to be in Santa Rosa on the evening of the 14th, El Dorado, Kansas on the 15th, Gravois Mills, Missouri on the 16th, Cuba on the 17th and 18th, Lebanon, Missouri on the 19th, Weatherford, Oklahoma on the 21st, and Albuquerque on the 21st. I am unsure of how much of the adventure will be shared from the road but upon our return there will be plenty of stories and photos to share. Okay, to close this out here are a few updates in answer to questions received. I received notice that The Illustrated Route 66 Historical Atlas was shipped with a guarantee of delivery by Monday, the 13th. So, unless there is an unexpected problem with shipping, I will have the book available at Cuba Fest, and it will be available for order through the blog utilizing the drop down menu in the upper right column by next week. In addition, we will also have copies of Backroads of Arizona, Route 66 Backroads, Travel Route 66, Ghost Towns of Route 66, and The Route 66 Encyclopedia available in Cuba, or if you catch us on the road.
If you have a store or gift shop, and sell my books, please let me know. The publisher is supplying me with a limited number of special posters and I would be pleased to provide you with one. Lets see did I forget anything? Oh, yes. Did I mention that “Croc” Lile, Cheryl Eichar Jett, Joe Sonderman, and a few other artists and authors, as well as a wide array of Route 66 enthusiasts will be attending Cuba Fest?