In every sense of the word, the international association of Route 66 enthusiasts is truly a community. As an example, this weekend passionate fans of the double six, some traveling for hundreds of miles, (Toshi Goto of the Japanese Route 66 Association was in attendance) gathered along the Gasconade River in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri to rally in support of the historic Gasconade Bridge that is currently closed.
This evening they will gather at the Munger Moss Motel in Lebanon to celebrate the 45th anniversary of Bob and Ramona’s ownership of this landmark, and to say thank you for their many contributions to the Route 66 community.
A few of the whimsical murals at Ramada Kingman.
My dearest friend and I had planned to attend the festivities but resultant of scheduling conflicts it wasn’t possible. So a congratulatory phone call to Bob and Ramona, and the photos of the historic event being posted on Facebook had to suffice.
One of the items that prevented our attendance was this evenings reception that will accompany the unveiling of the Route 66 photo exhibition at Ramada Kingman. This kicks off a week long public viewing as well as voting for submissions that will culminate next week during the Saturday evening dinner during the Route 66 Fun Run when the winners are announced.
It seems an appropriate way for us to close out a grueling but exciting week, and to prepare for an even more adventuresome week to come.
The dominate theme for this past week was meetings. This includes the always enjoyable Route 66 Association of Kingman monthly meet and greet. This month it took place at the House of Hops, the former Kingman Club.
To fill the void between demolition of the building next door, and the construction of a new facility that will dramatically expand the brewery, the owners have created a delightfully tacky temporary courtyard, ideal for enjoying craft beer, stimulating conversation, and warm desert breezes. In retrospect this was was an appropriately symbolic location for the gathering.
Artist rendering of the Beale Celebrations building.
At every turn there is ample evidence that the cities historic business district is experiencing a rather dramatic and exciting rebirth. This past week a former bank building reopened as Beale Street Brews, the building permit for the Garlic Clove event center in a long closed office complex that served as a dry cleaner more than fifty years ago received approval. In spite of a few setbacks, the Floyd and Company wood fired pizza restaurant adjoining the barbecue restaurant moved closer to completion.
Within the next two weeks the dramatic facade transformation at Beale Celebrations (originally a J.C. Penny’s that opened in the 1950’s) including neon trim and signage will be complete.
This weekend, depending on winds and any unforeseen issues, a refurbished historic neon sign will be added to Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner. Rest assured, photos will be posted.
This dramatic transition isn’t limited to the historic business district as the entire Route 66 corridor seems to be coming to life. As examples, the beautiful new patio at Rutherford’s Route 66 Family Diner is nearing completion, and Ramada Kingman is moving forward with plans at a rather steady clip.
In spite of these and many other successes, a bit of knee jerk journalism coupled with short cuts on research has created a bit of a stir in Kingman as well as with Route 66 enthusiasts.
I can attest, even though the renaissance of the area has been a very long time coming it is here and it is picking up steam.
Yes, there are a number of the old buildings that are now in such deplorable condition it is no longer economically feasible to renovate. All that is left is demolition and new construction with facades that mimic the historic streetscape.
However, attesting to the renewed interest in the area is the fact that people are willing to invest in these derelict buildings, and invest in the future. Since the first of the year several of the most decrepit buildings have been purchased, and one investor has actually purchased several.
Meetings related to this ongoing transformation, and maintaining progress, dominated the week. However, there were also interviews, a bit of consultation work for a Quebec television station that is about to film a Route 66 documentary, some promotional work for Grand Canyon cavers as well as Ramada Kingman, scheduling interviews for the coming week and presentations for the rest of the year( a full schedule will be posted upon confirmation), and honing the free subscription service Updates From Jim Hinckley’s America.
Time for urban renewal.
This coming week will be even more exciting and, amazingly, even busier. In addition to more meetings and interviews, and finalizing reservations as well as plans for attendance of the first European Route 66 Festival in Germany, I will be serving as an area guide for Peter Campbell McBride of the UK Route 66 Association and his sons, and then we will be having dinner with friends Kevin and Nancy Mueller, the proprietors of the legendary Blue swallow Motel.
This will be followed by the 29th annual Route 66 Fun Run, always a fun filled weekend, even the year that we had snow flurries.
With few exceptions, my son and I have always participated in the cruise from Seligman, and enjoyed the festivities in Kingman. It looks as though we will be continuing with this tradition.
Recently a series of new traditions were added; dinner and or breakfast with friends, and visiting with Dale Butel’s spring tour from Australia. This year we will take those traditions to a new level with dinner and a show at Ramada Kingman shared with friends,
and then breakfast on the new patio at Rutherford’s.
The only thing that will make the weekend better is if you can join us. See you there?