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An idea for Route 66 events that needs to spread July 22, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, Vehicles.
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A few days ago, the committee for the Route 66 Classic Car Cruise that will take place Aug. 9 in Crestwood, Missouri, announced the newest charity that will receive proceeds from the annual event.

According to a news release, the committee will give the event’s proceeds to Project Backpack – St. Louis, which serves the St. Louis metro region.

Project Backpack provides area police departments, social service agencies, domestic violence shelters and Department of Family Services workers with backpacks filled with necessities and comfort items. The backpacks make a huge difference for children who are removed from their homes, usually with nothing but the clothes on their backs. These filled backpacks are delivered to children on the scene and at the moment they are needed.

In earlier years, the car cruise committee has given proceeds to SAJE Senior Ministry, CHADS Coalition, USO Toys for Tots and the Lindbergh School District Foundation Teacher’s Grant program. The committee chooses a new charity each year.

This is a smart way to run an event. Because it’s done for charity, more people will be inclined to support it. People who have benefited from the chosen charity will be motivated to attend the cruise. Local businesses still will gain from the Route 66 event’s influx of visitors. And for goodwill, it’s hard to beat.

Those who run or who are considering a Route 66-themed festival ought to consider the format of the Route 66 Classic Car Cruise.

Bob Waldmire art featured at Harley-Davidson Museum exhibit July 10, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Events, Motorcycles, People, Photographs, Vehicles.
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The artwork of Bob Waldmire, the famed and beloved Route 66 artist who died of cancer in 2009, is featured in a current show at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee.

“The American Road,” which began June 14, “takes visitors on a journey highlighting the evolution of the quintessential American road trip from its early beginnings in 1930 to what it has come to represent in pop culture today,” according to a news release. It features photographs, film footage, slide shows and travel memorabilia.

Waldmire’s artwork is prominently featured Gallery 3 of the show, which displays a 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu that was custom-painted by him. I’m pretty sure that’s vehicle is owned by Dave Jostes of Rochester, Illinois, who has showed up with the car to several Waldmire-related events.

Waldmire’s spiral notebooks and sketches — including some of the earliest of his career — also will be displayed.

Waldmire’s legendary 1972 Volkswagen minibus still can be seen at the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum in Pontiac, along with a schoolbus he converted into living quarters for a time. And his intricate artwork can be bought here and at souvenir shops on the Mother Road. Waldmire also served as the indirect inspiration to the Fillmore VW minibus character in the Disney-Pixar “Cars” films.

The photography of Jeff Kunkle, co-founder of Vintage Roadside, also is featured in the gallery.

“The American Road” will run at the museum until Sept. 1.

(Images courtesy of Harley-Davidson Museum; hat tip to Ace Jackalope)

Replica of historic hotel lobby re-created in Oklahoma Route 66 Museum June 30, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, History, Motels, Museums.
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As if you don’t have enough good reasons to visit the marvelous Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton, Celina Hawkins of the Odessa American in Texas explains why there’s another:

On Thursday, relatives and many others gathered inside the Route 66 Museum as the newest exhibit – an exact replica of the lobby of the Calmez (Cowl-mez) Hotel – was unveiled. About 15 years ago, I was fortunate to see the lobby, albeit dilapidated, but I imagined that in 1929, when my great grandfather Claude Calmes (Cowl-mees) opened the hotel, that it was quite grand. With marble floors and ornate accoutrements – it must have been beautiful indeed. [...]

He and his partner Elmer Crabbe pushed to get approval from the city and the chamber to build a 6-story hotel and eventually got their blessing in 1928. The hotel, which cost $500,000 opened in 1929 only weeks after the stock market crash and the beginning of the Great Depression. Claude’s vision was to open a hotel that could be a rest stop without too much extravagance to the booming community and to Route 66.

I don’t think I’d say the place was without extravagance. It had a palatial entrance with marble floors. There was a café and a bar downstairs and one on the main floor. There was also a mezzanine where folks could gather for coffee. Then upstairs, there was a lounge, where I could almost hear the echo of big band music playing as I squinted in the darkness to make out the room. There was apparently a stage and bar stools attached to the floor surrounded the bar, upholstered in red. The hotel, was lovingly called the Grande Old Lady by Clinton’s historic preservation crowd.

According to the Clinton Daily News, the exhibit contains an original Calmez Hotel neon sign and other memorabilia. The sign required about two years and $1,500 in restoration work.

The Calmez Hotel exhibit will be at the museum through December.

The Calmez was closed during the 1980s. It was condemned in 2000 and torn down — but not without much debate from Clinton residents who wanted it saved. And Hawkins’ mother managed to save a few bricks from the building before the wrecking ball came.

(Image of the Calmez Motel courtesy of 66Postcards.com)

Route 66 Rendezvous, 20 years ago June 22, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, Towns, Vehicles.
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This 20-minute video provides a look at the 1994 edition of the Route 66 Rendezvous in San Bernardino, California. It was only the fifth year for the annual event, and it already was huge.

You’ll even see Paul Taylor, publisher of Route 66 Magazine, back when it was still published in Williams, Arizona. It since has relocated to Florida.

Alas, the bankruptcy filing in 2012 of the host city put the Route 66 Rendezvous on indefinite hiatus. The nearby city of Ontario, California, has tried to pick up the slack with the Route 66 Cruisin’ Reunion, even though the event doesn’t take place on the Mother Road.

Harley’s rollout of electric motorcycle includes Route 66 tour June 19, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, Motorcycles, Road trips.
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Harley-Davidson Motor Company Side View

Harley Davidson this week announced it’s created a prototype electric motorcycle, called Project LiveWire, that will be touring the country — including Route 66 — so riders can see it, ride it, and offer feedback to the company.

… The Project LiveWire Experience invites customers to test ride, provide feedback and learn more about the story of the motorcycle. Even those who don’t yet ride will have the opportunity to feel the power of Project LiveWire through Jumpstart – a simulated riding experience.

A 2014 U.S. tour – kicking off with a journey down Route 66 – will visit more than 30 Harley-Davidson dealerships now through the end of the year. In 2015, the Project LiveWire Experience will continue in the U.S. and expand into Canada and Europe.

Harley’s website, the full U.S. tour schedule for LiveWire will be announced next week.

The motorcycle will not yet be offered for sale, nor have any specs been released about the motorcycle. But an article in Yahoo! Finance provides some helpful perspective:

… An electric street bike from Mission Motorcycles with a range of 140 miles and a top speed of 150 miles an hour sells for $59,000, but you can pay $75,000 if you’re so inclined. It is not unrealistic to think that a Harley electric would cost somewhere around that price.

If there is any single thing that defines a Harley, it is the bike’s rumbly, throaty sound, but the company is not going to try to replicate that on the electric version. Instead, the company’s chief marketing officer said, “Think fighter jet on an aircraft carrier. Project LiveWire’s unique sound was designed to differentiate it from internal combustion and other electric motorcycles on the market.”

Harley also produced this teaser video of LiveWire:

(Image courtesy of Harley Davidson)

Route 66 Walk of Fame nominees announced June 19, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, People, Towns.
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One of the events on tap for the Route 66 International Festival in Kingman, Arizona, on Aug. 14-17 is the dedication of the Route 66 Walk of Fame along Andy Devine Avenue (aka Route 66).

This week, the Kingman Area Chamber of Commerce announced the nominees for the Walk of Fame of individuals “who transformed Route 66 from a highway to an icon” (click on the link for more info on each nominee):

If you want to held fund the Route 66 Walk of Fame or nominate someone, call Julie Lowe at 928-753-1477.

Other recent news from the festival:

The Road Crew, a music group from Nashville that’s recorded two albums inspired by Route 66 and has played at several Route 66 festivals, will be performing at the Kingman festival after a fundraising effort to cover the band’s travel expenses raised more than $3,000.

— A Route 66 Crossroads of the Past & Future conference is among the slate of activities scheduled for the festival. Confirmed speakers include Wallis, Jim Ross, Kaisa Barthuli, Jerry Asher (Plug Share), Ed Klein, Ron Hart, Rudy Garcia, Kumar Patel, and representatives from most state Route 66 associations as well as the Dutch, Czech, and German associations.

— A display of Bob Waldmire’s artwork will be at the festival.

— A film festival will feature works by Shellee Graham, Ester Brym, award-winning independent filmmakers and movies on Route 66.

— The authors, artists, and collectors exhibition will also include displays from Route 66 associations, along with collections or works by Mike Ward, Steve Rider, Joe Sonderman, Chery Eichar Jett and others.

— Bob Boze Bell will introduce a new book, “The 66 Kid,” about growing up on Route 66 and is developing an interactive Route 66 exhibit with the tourism office.

— Children’s book author Anne Slanina will host an “Annie Mouse on Route 66″ Party for the children in conjunction with Betsy Parker.

— Among the events include a reunion concert Saturday night of The Lettermen, which had its hitmaking heyday during the 1960s.

— A Route 66 awards banquet hosted by the Route 66 Alliance isn’t happening. The event was removed from the festival’s schedule a few weeks ago (although it’s still mentioned on the festival homepage and other websites). Alliance co-founder Michael Wallis said the banquet was called off for several reasons, among them including not being able to find a venue for it.

That’s not it by a long shot in terms of festival activities. For more, consult the festival’s website.

Grand Canyon Railway bringing out steam engine for Father’s Day weekend May 31, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, Preservation, Railroad.
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The Grand Canyon Railway, based in the Route 66 town of Williams, Arizona, will bring back a 1923 steam locomotive and Pullman cars for special displays and excursions on Father’s Day weekend, June 14-15.

It’s part of the railroad’s first Williams Train Days festival, which, according to the news release, will have other goodies that many Route 66 fans will like:

This historic operating railroad is firing up its 1923 steam engine for the occasion and pulling out rarely seen equipment, rolling-stock and memorabilia. To complement the glory days of rail travel, vintage and classic automobile exhibits take center stage at the GCR depot and in Williams on iconic Route 66. Vintage tractor and farm equipment will also be on display.

On Saturday, June 14 and Sunday, June 15 the GCR will operate the Cataract Creek Rambler—a special, one-hour roundtrip excursion from Williams, AZ through the Arizona pine forest in vintage Pullman cars pulled by steam locomotive No. 4960. While the Grand Canyon Railway operates 364 days a year (closed Christmas Day) and is normally powered with diesel engines, the Cataract Creek Rambler will make special trips Father’s Day weekend that depart at 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m., with a special sunset departure Saturday evening at 6:00 p.m. Tickets to this unforgettable experience are value-priced at $15 for adults, $10 for children ages 2-15 and free for children ages 2 and under. Tickets will be available at the Williams Depot ticket counter on the day of travel. No advance reservations available.

Here’s a video about the Cataract Creek Rambler from two years ago:

The event promises a lot of neat stuff, and the price of the train trips themselves that day are a good value. I wouldn’t show up at the last minute for one of those excursions.

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