May 202012
 



I have said it before and I will say it again – the Illinois Route 66 Association gets it! They are the shining examples of how to keep not only the route alive – but to prosper from it.

ATLANTA — While Atlanta may have a small population, it boasts a pair of giant tourist attractions — Route 66 and a 19-foot-tall statue that looms over it.

More than a dozen volunteers came from Illinois and beyond Saturday to wash and paint Atlanta’s Bunyon’s Statue — a giant man holding a hot dog — to ensure it remains a Route 66 icon for years to come.

Similar statues were once popular and designed to attract people to businesses. Atlanta’s giant originally stood for 38 years on Route 66 in Cicero, drawing customers to Bunyon’s restaurant.

When it closed in 1993, the restaurant’s owners loaned the legendary figure to Atlanta, where it draws tourists to the town of nearly 1,700.

While the one-of-a-kind Route 66 icon draws smiles and laughter from visitors, he’s a “serious factor” when it comes to economic development. The statue draws thousands from all over the world each year, said Atlanta business owner Bill Thomas, who helped bring the attraction to the city.

“There’s no where else in the world you can have your photo taken with a 19-foot man holding a hot dog,” Thomas said.

Thomas was at the statue talking with a three-man film crew Friday afternoon when two carloads of people stopped to have their photo snapped.

“That happens time and time again,” Thomas said.

And it’s not just people from the Midwest.

Saturday morning, as volunteers refurbished the statue, two visitors from Odernheim, Germany, stopped on their way from Chicago to Los Angeles.

“It’s history and was a dream,” said Klaus Dreesbach of why he decided two years ago to plan the motorcycle trip on Route 66.

Dreesbach and friend Rolf Mau weren’t surprised to see the fiberglass giant.

“We have read in a trip book about them,” said Mau, who described Atlanta as a “nice, typical, western city.”

Restoration effort

The opportunity to help preserve the giant also drew enthusiasts from as far away as Iowa and Michigan.

“I’m impressed by what people want to do to help,” said John Weiss, chair of the preservation committee of the Route 66 Association of Illinois and organizer of the work day. Those who are interested in getting involved can visit www.il66assoc.org for more information.

“It’s my wife’s birthday and it’s what she wanted,” said Joe Foster, who traveled from Urbandale, Iowa, with wife, Kara, and daughter, Ella Hendricks, 8.

“Route 66 is my passion, and he’s grown to like it,” said Kara, who painted one of the statue’s arms and the mustard on the hot dog.

Bill Kelley, who grew up hearing stories of Route 66 from his parents, came from Eastpointe, Mich., to help.

“Disneyworld and Vegas aren’t for everybody,” said Kelley of his passion for Route 66.

Volunteer Jerry Law, of Wood River, agreed. “To me, Route 66 has everything I want.”

Dec 142011
 



The ‘addition’ to the Route 66 Association of Illinois Museum…


This one was a huge story this year. Everyone knows the man, everyone knows his legend, and now everyone can see what made Bob Waldmire ‘tick’ with a collection of his personal belongings.

Since the addition of the different pieces, tourism numbers have been through the roof! The museum always did well – but this just made things, well, a little better! They are always good about posting (on their Facebook page) numbers of travelers coming into the museum and where they are from. I applaud the museum on their effoerts!

Below is the original stoy I posted about the addition of the Waldmire pieces:

Pontiac IL will dedicate its Red Carpet Corridor Festival to the memory of a Route 66 icon, the late Bob Waldmire.

The festival, Saturday, May 7, and Sunday, May 8, will include the painting of a mural designed by Waldmire, tours of the Waldmire school bus mobile home, a fine arts show and sale on the Livingston County Courthouse Square and a display of some of the classic cars that will be included in the new Pontiac-Oakland Automobile Museum and Resource Center.

Waldmire was born near Springfield in 1945 and died in December 2009. His passion for Route 66 began in 1962 when his parents took the entire family on a motoring trip to California via Route 66.

He later spent the rest of his life traveling along Route 66 in either his school bus mobile home or 1972 Volkswagen van. Both the van and the school bus are on display in Pontiac at the Route 66 Association of Illinois Hall of Fame and Museum in downtown Pontiac. During the Red Carpet Festival, the Waldmire school bus home will be opened to the public for the first time.

Waldmire supported his nomadic and eclectic lifestyle by painting and drawing for clients along Route 66, the “Mother Road.” His artwork is famous worldwide and Pontiac has one of his Route 66 road maps painted inside the Route 66 Museum.

During this year’s festival, Waldmire’s last commissioned mural project will be painted. He was asked to design and paint a mural for downtown Pontiac, but his illness prevented him from completing that task. Instead, he designed the mural and the public will be invited to come downtown during the festival to help paint the 66-foot map of the entirety of Route 66. The Diaz family, owners of Diaz Sign Art, will oversee the project.

In keeping with the festival’s theme of art and the Mother Road, the Livingston County Courthouse Square will be the scene of an art show and sale. Artists from around the Midwest, including some Walldogs, will display and sell original art.

For more information, contact Ellie Alexander, director of Pontiac Tourism, at 815-844-5847.

Make sure not only to visit them on their website by clicking HERE and following them on their Facebook page by clicking HERE – but PLEASE show your support by becoming a member and help supporting the associations work in preserving and promoting the route throughout the state of Illinois!

Nov 042011
 



I had the privilege on working on the streetcar when it was in a ‘secret location’ before it was moved into its current location. I will tell you this – it was in rough shape last time I saw it, and it looks like (from the picture at least) they have done quite a bit of work on it. I would have to say this is probably in the ‘Top Ten Oldest Items’ on the route – right next to the jailcell which would also be included in that list! The next time I will be anywhere close to Gardner will be in January – so I will try to stop out and see it in person – hopefully without 14 inches of snow around it!

GARDNER, Ill. — On Nov. 11, 2011, a two-part Veteran’s Day Program will honor veterans and dedicate a historical diner that dates back to the late 1800s.

The program, themed upon the Gettysburg Address, begins at 11 a.m. and includes the Gettysburg Address, given by Don Phillips, as well as remarks from Mayor Tom Wise; a war story read by Linda Tyler; guest speaker Russell Santerelli, who is currently serving in the U.S. Army; a balloon release; and other speeches to recognize the veterans.

The second part of the program will include the re-dedication of The Diner, a restaurant that began as a horse drawn-streetcar operated by the Kankakee Transit System. It first was owned by George Kaldem. His mother and the cook, Minnie Springborn, was praised as the woman whose pies, stew, fried chicken and homemade bread were considered some of the finest that could be found anywhere.

Later, it was moved behind a residence and was used to house workers at the armory during World War II. Then it was moved to the rear of the Riviera Roadhouse, where it was used as a place for family reunion picnics, a house for local fishermen and a storage shed.

The Diner has never had toilet facilities or even running water. Water for cooking and washing equipment was carried in with containers supplied by local residents.

The Route 66 of Illinois Preservation Committee, headed by chairman John Weiss, has restored The Diner with a new cement block foundation, new windows, painting, cleaning, repairs and installation of many donated artifacts of the diner.

“We started the restoration on it, but volunteers and Tom Perkins and his sons worked hard on it,” Weiss said. “The restoration is complete, and I will be speaking at the re-dedication of the diner, talking about the connection between Route 66 and Gardner.”

“We have the streetcar to re-dedicate and, at the same time, it is the 85th birthday of Route 66. I will also mention Rev. Christian Christensen, who is the man that saved the world from nuclear destruction. There is a plaque dedicated to him in the two-cell jail.”

The historic jail, which is located in the same area as the streetcar, is always open. Visitors can press a button, the “message repeater,” and hear about Gardner, which also includes the streetcar information.

“The streetcar is not always open, but you can still go peek in the streetcar and see what travel was like back in those days,” Weiss said. “It’s a great piece of history for a little town like this. Not many people know about it.”

Peggy and Bob Kraft, who owned the diner that had been located at the site of the former Riviera Restaurant before the restaurant burned, donated the diner to the village and are happy that the structure is now being restored. They will be present at the program.

“We refurbished the diner all up and got it all ready,” Mayor Tom Wise said. “It certainly is a good thing. I gave Peggy and Bob the key to the city and we have a memorial plaque for the re-dedication.”

Coffee and donuts will be served at the diner by Auxiliary No. 663 Unit the day of the dedication.

Contributions and donations towards continuing preservation efforts are greatly appreciated.

By Genevieve Toussaint — news@morrisdailyherald.com

Feb 152011
 



Ernie Edwards of Pig Hip Resturant fame is currently in a nursing home and we really believe cards and notes would help cheer him up.



You can address them to:
Ernest Edwards
c/o St.Clara’s Manor
Room 217
200 Fifth Street
Lincoln, IL 62656

Thank You on behalf of his family.
Another Thank You to the Route 66 Association of Illinois for bringing this idea to light!!

Jan 062011
 

The Route 66 Association of Illinois – Winter Quarterly Meeting on Sun. January 16, 2011

The Illinois folks are having their first association meeting of 2011 and if you are ANYWHERE near Pontiac, stop in and see what these folks d0 to preserve Route 66 throughout Illinois.

I call them ‘the best of the best’ when it comes to preservation, tours, awards, and information of all the other states along the route.

Stop in and you will see why!

Meeting informtion:

Date: Sunday, January 16, 2011 – 10:00am – 5:00pm
Winter Quarterly Meeting – Pontiac, IL

10:00 AM – Board Meeting
12:00 PM – Lunch Break (on your own)
1:00 PM – General Meeting
Motor Tour Meeting follows General Meeting
Pontiac City Hall – 115 W. Howard St., Pontiac