Michael Wallis, a critically acclaimed author and a pioneering contributor to the launching of the Route 66 renaissance has often quipped that Route 66 is a linear community. Most anyone that has traveled the old double six, or that owns a business on Route 66, or that has been involved with preservation work would agree.
Business owners are friendly and fiercely supportive, but yet bicker behind the scenes. There are small town politics and unabashed pride of association with iconic Route 66. There is generosity and camaraderie. There are small town heroes and gossip. Route 66 is a living Norman Rockwell print, a time capsule with a Disneyland veneer where only the best was preserved.
Dale Butel and Kingman Mayor Richard Anderson (Judy Hinckley)
Route 66 may be America’s most famous highway but its citizens hail from every corner of the world. On any given day you will hear German, Dutch, French, Italian, Japanese, and countless other languages in coffee shops and cafes from Chicago to Santa Monica.
In Kingman, Arizona that was made manifest during the conferences that were a part of the 2014 Route 66 International Festival and again on Tuesday at a ceremony in which Dale and Kristi-Anne Butel of Australian based Route 66 Tours was inducted into the Route 66 Walk of Fame, and made an honorary member of the Route 66 Association of Kingman.
Mike Wagner, a local real estate agent and former employee at Disneyland conceived the idea during initial planning for the Route 66 International Festival. With his resignation from the planning committee the concept morphed into its current configuration; a tangible honorarium to the individuals that have played a role in the creation of Route 66 as well as its transformation from highway to icon.
As envisioned, the walk of fame will stretch along Andy Devine Avenue (Route 66) in the cities historic district east from the intersection with First Street. Each year new inductees will be honored during a special ceremony at the Best of the West on 66 Festival that takes place on the last weekend in September.
Left to right, Col Grieves, Dale Butel, and Daniel Azzopardi. Photo Judy Hinckley
As Dale and Kristi-Anne will be unable to attend the festival in September, a special ceremony took place when the companies summer tour stopped in Kingman for lunch at Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner. Similar ceremonies will take place for some of the other inductees. Another manifestation of the international nature of Route 66 is the forthcoming European Route 66 Festival scheduled for July 2016. Support for the event is being given by Route 66 associations in the United States as well as in Germany, Japan the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Italy, and Norway. The intertwining of the romanticized image of an “authentic American experience” with such a diverse international influence ensures that Route 66 is one on the most unique attractions in the world. This fascinating blend of Americana and international influences has transformed the Main Street of America into a colorful and dynamic tapestry that extends beyond festivals and travelers.
You will find manifestations of this international passion and affection for the double six all along the course of the old highway. In Kingman you will find it in conversation with Sam and Monica, owners of the El Trovatore Motel. In Holbrook, the vintage Globetrotter Lodge is a wonderfully refreshing oasis where the quintessential motel experience circa 1960 is embellished and enhanced with charming European and folk art touches. In Truxton, Lynette and Allen Greer, the proprietors of the historic Frontier motel and restaurant labor away to bring the property to life. The owner, however, is Sam Murray of New Zealand who also operates Gilligan’s Wild West Tours. To those who ask, can you still drive Route 66, the answer is a resounding YES. Yes, you can still drive this storied highway. Yes, it is still the Main Street of America. Yes, it is still the road of adventure made famous by Buz and Todd. Yes, it is America’s most famous highway. Yes, it is magic road that bridges chasms of language and culture. Yes, it is still the road where dreams do come true. Just ask Atsuyuki Katsuyama.