Giganticus Headicus, now the studios for Greg Arnold and Antares Point Visitor Center.
For my dearest friend and I, this has been a most extraordinary year. In addition to the recent trip to the festival in Los Angeles, we were privileged with an opportunity to participate in the first European Route 66 Festival, in the Miles of Possibilities Conference in Bloomington, Illinois, meet with tour groups and friends from throughout the world, and provide assistance with the marketing and promotion of Grand Canyon Caverns, and now the Antares Point Visitor Center.
I was also honored to be able to assist in the development of the Route 66: The Road Ahead Initiative project. Opportunities to make presentations at the festival and a school in Germany, at Cuba Fest, the conference in Bloomington, in LA, and at the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis have all contributed to making this a most memorable year.
With the exception of Chicago, we covered the road from end to end. Along the way I sat with tourism and economic development directors, city managers, and chamber of commerce representatives in several communities. I also met with business owners and museum directors. We discussed the state of the Route 66 community, challenges, and triumphs.
So, I feel confident in saying that the international Route 66 community is alive and well. It is is vibrant, passionate, and generally healthy. In fact, I would be willing to go out on a limb and say that the road is more popular than ever, and that its future is quite bright.
Everyday I receive exciting news about new businesses, festival plans, or developments. This morning I received word from Ramona Kiewert the Fabulous 40’s Motel in Adrian, Texas is reopened for business. Imagine being able to start the day with breakfast at the Midpoint Cafe after a restful nights sleep!
Chain of Rocks Bridge
This is not to say there aren’t problems. Counted among the litany of issues that need to be addressed are the historic bridges of Route 66; more than 98% are scheduled for replacement or demolition.
Grassroots initiatives to generate awareness of the problem, and then to build coalitions that can address the multitude of issues associated with preservation, are making a valiant effort. However, problems of this magnitude will need a national organization to magnify and bolster these efforts.
With that as an opening, I want to address some of the inquiries received and questions asked about the Route 66: The Road Ahead Initiative. It has been flying a bit under the radar but the ambitious project has been quietly building a rock solid foundation of committees consisting of people from throughout the Route 66 community.
In addition, there are some impressive advisory groups under development that to facilitate coordinated development, dissemination of information, and programs to foster greater public awareness. Among these are a Native American and international advisory group. For more information about the Road Ahead Initiative, this is the link to the website. Take a look at the third quarter report, you might be quite surprised by all of the behind the scenes activity that has taken place this year.
Few things exemplify the nature of the Route 66 community in the modern era than the festival in Germany this past summer, or the celebratory dinner at Cameron’s Seafood in Pasadena on November 11.
Arranged in mere weeks, the dinner, a Route 66 anniversary celebration that, as often happens when enthusiasts gather, turned into a family reunion that was attended by about sixty people from five countries. When it was learned that it was also the birthday of Yasuka Takeuchi, wife of Japanese author Akio Takeuchi, there was added reason to celebrate.
A giant birthday card was signed by all in attendance and gifts were presented. A shirt from the European Route 66 Festival was given by Wolfgang and Anja Werz of the German Route 66 Association. Jerry McClanahan presented a personalized copy of the EZ 66 Guide for Travelers.
If you happen to be in Kingman, Arizona on the evening of Saturday, November 19, you might have interest in a presentation that I will be making at Beale Celebrations. I will be speaking on Route 66 in the era of renaissance, and what it means to communities.
This community development event is being sponsored by Promote Kingman, envisioned as a chamber of commerce for the 21st century, being developed by MyMarketing Designs, a sponsor of Jim Hinckley’s America. The event will also serve as a fund raiser for the local Kiwanis, and the Route 66 Association of Kingman facade and neon sign restoration initiative. Donating items for the silent auction will be an excellent opportunity to promote your business and support the Route 66 community. And that wraps things up for the day. It is time to get to work. There are two book proposals to complete (details to be posted soon, I hope), a morning walkabout, and a few other odds and ends that require my attention today. See you on the road.