Kerrick James, on assignment in Switzerland sentthis photo. Yes, that is a Route 66 sign and yes, thatis the Matterhorn in the background.
Communities along Route 66 from Grant Park in Chicago to the Last Stop Shop on Santa Monica Pier are in a most enviable position, at least from a marketing standpoint. They are linked to what may be the most recognizable signage and most popular highway in the world. Still, surprisingly, only a few communities have successfully utilized this promotional edge as a catalyst for development and redevelopment.
Even more surprising, the Route 66 community has yet to build a cooperative partnership that mimics the former U.S. Highway 66 Association. That amazing organization, with a relatively small staff operating in an era of dirt roads, Model A Ford’s, and sketchy long distance phone service launched the marketing campaign that branded the double six as the Main Street of America. There were also annual conventions, organized lobbying efforts, and branding the road as the Will Rogers Highway. In short, they managed to transform a highway into a cultural phenomena which in turn fueled a renaissance for a highway that officially no longer exists.
There are indications, however, that the 90th anniversary year for Route 66 could be the dawning of a new era. The recent National Park Service facilitated Route 66: The Road Ahead Initiative town hall meetings were one manifestation of the exciting developments waiting in the wings just off stage.
Another is the Miles of Possibilities Conference and the Route 66 activities scheduled to take place in Edwardsville, Illinois on the last weekend in October. Congratulations are in order for Cheryl Jett and the organizers that patiently worked to awaken a community, and create an event that will have long term benefit for most anyone with a vested interest in Route 66.
There is also the European Route 66 Festival scheduled for next July in Germany, and Scott Piotrowski’s endeavors for showcasing the original western terminus of Route 66 with a mega anniversary celebration. These are additional manifestations that the Route 66 community is coalescing into something as extraordinary as the highway itself.
Meanwhile, a bit closer to home, Kingman is awakening, slowly, to the possibilities that the Route 66 renaissance offers. The date for the Best of the West Festival is fast approaching, and this morning the Kingman Daily Miner posted a feature that profiled a bit of the events history.
Plans are under development to build on Chillin’ on Beale, a series of low key but fun events that takes place on the third Saturday of every month, April through October in 2016. Utilizing the events as the cornerstone for a year long celebration of the 90th anniversary of Route 66 is the general concept.
The bottom line, 2016 promises to be a most exciting year for the international Route 66 community. I am quite confident that it will kick off plans for some pretty amazing centennial celebrations.
Now, a few personal notes. The schedule for our travels to Edwardsville, and coinciding scheduled appearances is pretty well set. However, I can still squeeze in a book signing or two, or stop by to sign books in your inventory. Please drop me a note to discuss this.
One more item, if you or your tour group plan on visiting the Kingman area, a custom itinerary can be created for you. Also, available are customized tours, events, and presentations.
For more information contact me directly, or the Ramada Kingman, the cities only full service Route 66 resort.