Wolfgang Werz, German Route 66 Association, and authorJim Hinckley. Werz, and his wife Anja, are honorarymembers of the Route 66 Association of Kingman.
This morning I kick things off with a hearty congratulations to everyone who worked to make this years Birthplace of Route 66 Festival a success. Based upon the recent feature published at Route 66 News, (link above) I would be willing to bet that the City of Springfield is quite pleased with the turn out.
The number of attendees at an event, however, are but a small part of the overall story. The best indicator of an events success or failure is found in the social media postings from those who attended. Based upon that criteria, this event was an unequivocal hit.
Historic Los Angeles
The cornerstone of the Route 66 renaissance is the people, their passion, their generosity, their enthusiasm, and the camaraderie of a shared experience that transforms an event into a family reunion. If the organizers of an event can tap into this, if they have an understanding of what makes the Route 66 community unique and special, a Route event will be successful even if it is just a kazoo band on the corner and a park suitable for a large picnic.
The community that can tap into this renaissance, and harness it, has an unprecedented opportunity for the development of long term, sustainable growth. In addition, it provides a very unique opportunity for building a sense of community and community purpose. Pontiac, Illinois, Cuba, Missouri, and Galena, Kansas are superb examples. Surprisingly, the successful utilization of the Route 66 renaissance as a catalyst for development has largely been limited to metropolitan pockets and small rural communities. That, however, may change in the near future as Scott Piotrowski and his team tackle the multitude of problems associated with creating a Route 66 festival (an international 90th anniversary celebration at the highways original western terminus)in the heart of historic Los Angeles.Many of the templates used to transform communities such as Pontiac could be applied to towns along the Lincoln Highway, U.S. 50, or any historic or scenic road in America. However, what can not be duplicated is the passion, the zeal, and the camaraderie of the international Route 66 enthusiast. A European Lincoln Highway Festival with support from Lincoln Highway Associations in several countries is inconceivable. The Lincoln Highway is historic and scenic. There is international interest in the road and the preservation of its unique attributes. Still, it is not Route 66, the Main Street of America.From its inception, the double six has had the best press and publicity. From the Main Street of America campaign launched in 1927 to The Grapes of Wrath, a television show, Michael Wallis’s book that spawned the roads rebirth, and Cadillac commercials filmed on the highway for the Chinese market this road has served as center stage for almost a century of American societal evolution. If people aren’t traveling Route 66, they are planning a trip on Route 66, sometimes for years. And they form associations of like minded people, and they develop tour companies to cater to those people, and they create events and festivals to celebrate the roads culture and history – in the Czech Republic, Tokyo, and Germany. At the Miles of Possibilities conference in Edwardsville, Illinois in October, I will distill this a bit in my presentation about the 160 mile corridor in western Arizona. We will also be visiting with friends along the way, and joining in on the family reunion type festivities.
A gathering of Route 66 enthusiasts and friends atde Prael in Amsterdam.
Plans are tentative, but at this time we are thinking of making the return journey along sections of the Lincoln Highway for a comparative study, and to visit with friends such as recent Wyoming transplant Greg Hasman. This may be subject to change as early November isn’t the ideal time for a trip across the northern plains. Of course January isn’t the optimum time for touring the Netherlands and Belgium but we did it and had a grand time because of the people, the friends made through shared Route 66 adventures.