|Sports Illustratedphoto shoot on Route 66|
Last evening I made a presentation at the beautiful Beale Celebrations event center, a former JC Penny’s buidling that dates to the 1950’s on behalf of Promote Kingman, an ambitious initiative that seeks to “transform the community one partnership at a time” and create a “21st century chamber of commerce.” It was the inaugural event of a series that will be hosted by Promote Kingman.
The general focus of my presentation was the many manifestations of the Route 66 renaissance, 90th anniversary celebrations, and how communities are being transformed as a result. I opened with a few key dates in Route 66 history including June 27, 1985, the date that US 66 officially ceased to exist.
Think about that for just a moment. The most famous highway in the world does not exist, officially.
And yet there are Route 66 associations in Europe, Asia, and South America, and tour companies that specialize in Route 66 tours operating in at least a half dozens countries. National Geographic released a Route 66 calendar this year, and awhile back, Sports Illustrated shot their swimsuit edition on Route 66. For something that doesn’t exist, it sure is popular.
Last nights event that also served as a fund raiser for the Kiwanis as well as the Route 66 Association of Kingman was well attended. That always provides a sense of relief, a feeling that those who retain my services are getting their monies worth.
In regards to revitalization of the Kingman historic business district, and the harnessing of the Route 66 renaissance as catalyst, the changes have been rather dramatic over the course of the last twenty-four months. You might say that we are an overnight success, thirty years in the making.
If you haven’t stopped in Kingman recently, I suggest a cruise on Andy Devine Avenue and Beale Street. New construction, demolition, new stores, restored neon signage, facade renovation, beautification projects, and murals provide a sense of infectious enthusiasm and excitement.
In the coming months I will provide updates about the Promote Kingman initiative, their success at building community partnerships, and developing this virtual chamber of commerce. My initial impression is that these folks are on to something, and that something might just be a template for ensuring Route 66 remains vibrant into its centennial and beyond, and a means for communities to harness the renaissance as a catalyst for economic development and revitalization.