— It starts with plain brown paper and cardboard. Then come the sketches and the brush strokes — thousands of them.
By the time they are finished, June Stokes and Dixie Boyd-Carter will have committed more than 100 hours each to a labor of love that they hope will recapture what it was like when storefront windows in downtown Joplin were decorated for the holidays.
As Boyd-Carter draws black outlines around the windows of a skyscraper, Stokes weighs in on her work.
“That’s looking pretty good, girl,’’ said Stokes to her friend of more than 20 years. “I draw them up, and she helps paint them.’’
This year, they are tackling an ambitious task — the recreating of Route 66 from Chicago, Ill., to Santa Monica, Calif. The artists have created 22 panels that depict images one might see along the Mother Road. Among them are many that local residents will recognize.
The Route 66 panels will be placed in the Main Street windows of City Hall, the historic Newman Building, at Sixth and Main streets. They will be unveiled at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30.
“We used a Route 66 travel guide,” said Stokes, who is a gifted artist in that she can see an image and then recreate it by hand on paper. “I would see a little picture and think: That would be neat.’’
Boyd-Carter said, “This has been a lot of fun. It’s different than anything we have ever done. We like doing stuff like this together.’’
When the Newman Building was a department store, its window displays depicted the latest fashion trends with elaborate seasonal decorations, specialty items and a large assortment of toys.
To bring back the tradition, City Manager Mark Rohr and City Clerk Barbara Hogelin worked with the Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau in 2009 to implement the idea so the holiday magic of Joplin in the early 1900s could be relived.
Said Hogelin: “It creates a fun and festive atmosphere for the holidays. Many of our citizens may recall Newman’s windows being elaborately decorated for the holidays, but the younger generation may not have ever experienced anything like this. We are happy to share a little piece of history with them.’’
This year, as in past years, the Joplin Model Railroad Club will continue its tradition of providing a working model train for display. The 40-foot display will be presented in the windows facing Sixth Street.
Hogelin recruited Stokes and Boyd-Carter for the displays in 2009. The construction part of the project is being managed by Jeff Tennis and Rick Allen, maintenance mechanics for the city, who help assemble the various scenes for the display.
The Route 66 display will be used again this summer when Joplin plays host for the Route 66 Festival on Aug. 1-2.
After the unveiling of the Route 66 display, those attending can observe the Holiday Tree Lighting at 6:30 p.m. in Spiva Park at Fourth and Main streets. The event is put on by the Joplin Parks and Recreation Department staff.
By Wally Kennedy – The Joplin Globe