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Route 66 association re-formed in Kingman February 28, 2009

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Route 66 Associations, Signs, Towns.

MohaveBusiness.com has details about the newly formed Kingman Route 66 Association, based in Kingman, Ariz.

And it’s interesting what the association’s president has to say:

One of our primary goals is to create attractions for people instead of just being a stopover,” association president Tim McDonnell said. “Our motel occupancy is off the chart, but the average check-in time is 8 p.m. and the average check-out time is 8 a.m.”

Turning the city into a tourism destination will take time and cooperation from government and numerous other entities, but McDonnell sees no reason some marketing can’t begin almost immediately. The city’s location near so many tourist attractions like Grand Canyon West, the Grand Canyon, the London Bridge, Oatman and Las Vegas makes it a viable central location for tourists to stay while visiting the region, he said.

“If you come to Kingman and stay a week, how many places can you visit from Kingman,” McDonnell said. “It only makes sense to promote Kingman through Route 66. It’s always been about location. First it was the Hualapais, then the Mines and they the railroad. Now it’s the railroad and I-40 and Hwy 93 and the CanAmex Highway is going to come through Kingman.

Apparently Kingman had a Route 66 association until about a decade ago, when interest died out. But the founder kept the tax-exempt nonprofit paperwork alive, upon which the new Route 66 association was able to take advantage.

And the group has some goals:

“We’re planning on working together with other organizations to create downtown events for the community,” McDonnell said. “We’re in the planning stages of a downtown event that would be monthly. We’re working with the Route 66 Cruizers and the Downtown Merchants Association on that.” […]

“We want to revive all the neon and classic advertising along Route 66. We’re raising funds to help make that possible,” McDonnell said. “One of our goals is to put murals around town. They’ll be historical and include history from the Hualapapis and the area’s WWII involvement.

“We have a Route 66 cleanup committee that has done a fantastic job of cleaning up from the Powerhouse Visitor Center to the railroad trestle.”

Reviving or restoring the neon signs is an especially good goal, in my opinion.

The group is also working on getting a Web site up and running, which I’ll post when it’s available.

Tri-state marathon delayed a year February 28, 2009

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, Sports.

The inaugural Route 66 Mother Road Marathon, set to take place Oct. 3 on Route 66 from Miami, Okla., through Kansas to Joplin, Mo., will be delayed until 2010 because of a weak economy and problems with certifying the race, reported the Joplin Globe.

According to the Globe, organizers were worried about attracting enough sponsors amid a spiraling economy. That’s no small thing, as it’s been estimated the marathon’s costs could be as much as $80,000. Delaying the race to late 2010, they figured the economy might be in a recovery by then.

Organizers also saw difficulties in certifying the race as a qualifier for more popular marathons in Boston or New York.

Vince Lindstrom, head of the Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau, said, “This would be the first regional event where everyone in our area benefits. We have one chance to make a first impression. We don’t want to blow it with a bad marathon where they won’t come back.” […]

“We have to verify elevations, that the course would be closed and that its length is exactly 26.2 miles,” he said. “The marathon starts in Miami (Okla.) and concludes in Joplin. It would involve three states, three counties and several different municipal jurisdictions.

“That has become more of a challenge than we anticipated. We cannot tell runners that it is a sanctioned course until it is officially certified.”

Shortly after the race was announced in December, I could not figure out on Google Maps how to keep the course on Route 66 from Miami to Joplin and keep it to just 26.2 miles. The distance on that road between those cities is closer to 30 miles, not 26. Shortening it to 26.2 would have required the race to start in Commerce, Okla., north of Miami. Or it would have finished on the very western outskirts of Joplin — not downtown as originally envisioned.

Apparently the organizers discovered these same layout difficulties shortly after I did. I’ll be curious to see how they eventually handle it.

In the meantime, long-distance runners can take solace with the Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa, set for Nov. 22.

New Mexico lodging-tax proposal is killed February 27, 2009

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Motels.

The Tourism Association of New Mexico reports that a bill in the state legislature that would have imposed a 10 percent tax on all lodging establishments, including RV parks, was tabled in committee on Wednesday night, essentially killing the measure.

The bill, SB 595, was tabled by a 4-3 vote in the state senate’s Corporations and Transportation Committee.

The measure was roundly criticized for what would have imposed a significant cost to travelers in the middle of a weak economy.

According to an e-mail from Art Bouffard of the New Mexico Lodging Association:

Thanks to TANM/NMLA’s lobbyists Nancy King and Gary Kilpatrict along with literally 100s of emails and phone calls to the committee members, we were fairly certain we had the number of votes to defeat the legislation.  However, it was important that the hearing room was packed and the pressure was kept up.  Huge thanks go to all the B&B folks that showed up and all the Asian American Hotel Owners Association innkeepers that spent two days at the state capitol.  Every corner of the state was represented.

Asian-Americans are sometimes unfairly maligned in a few quarters, but they deserve a lot of thanks for preserving numerous historic motels on Route 66. And thanks to their diligent efforts at the New Mexico Capitol, they deserve thanks yet again.

(Hat tip: Richard Talley at Smalltown America)

A Route 66 shield made of Legos February 26, 2009

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Signs.
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Here’s a time-lapse video of Bricks 2 Pics making an image of a Route 66 shield entirely from Lego pieces. Most impressive.

According to the video, more than 4,000 pieces were used to make the shield. The Route 66 piece can be purchased on eBay; starting bid is $100, with a reserve.

Bricks 2 Pics makes other custom artwork from Legos. A gallery of its recent works can be seen here.

POPS revamps menu February 26, 2009

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Restaurants.

POPS, the Route 66 landmark in Arcadia, Okla., that’s best-known for its 66-foot-tall pop bottle and more than 500 brands of soda it sells, recently revamped the menu of its cafe, reports the Daily Oklahoman.

Oklahoma City restaurateurs Keith and Heather Paul were hired to make the changes after discussing the idea with POPS owner and Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon. Among the food establishments the Pauls own are Market C and Cheever’s Cafe, both of which are on or very near Route 66 and are historic properties — including a restored Phillips 66 cottage-style gas station.

Gone are the steaks and more exotic fare. Instead, Paul has revamped the menu into one that emphasizes “gourmet road food” headlined by burgers, hot dogs, chicken fried steak, a few salads, sodas and shakes.

“We kept some old favorites and centralized the menu to accommodate the crowds,” Paul said.

“We tried to keep it as simple as possible and operationally a successful functioning restaurant. We’re getting over the weekends 1,500 people a day.”

So POPS is trying to get food to diners faster and cut down on the wait-in-line times on the weekends, which have sometimes stretched to 90 minutes since it opened.

Here is a link to a pdf of POPS’ new menu.

I had a meal at Cheever’s a few weeks ago, and it was terrific. So I understand why McClendon has a lot of faith in them.

Big rocker is certified as world record February 26, 2009

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Businesses.
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The gigantic rocking chair at the Fanning Outpost General Store in the Route 66 hamlet of Fanning, Mo., was certified as an official Guinness World Record as the largest such piece of furniture, according to a news release Wednesday.

The chair was custom-built for store owner Dan Sanazaro last April. Officially, the chair measures 42 feet, 1 inch tall and 20 feet, 3 inches wide. It weighs about 27,500 pounds. The chair is so large, it was built in pieces off-site, then assembled at the store’s property.

The Guinness folks requested one other thing to ensure the chair’s insertion into the record books:

One more detail that Guinness requested was that the chair actually had to rock while it was videotaped. Joe Medwick cut the welds so that Sanazaro and some of his workers could push the chair to rock it. Medwick then re-welded the chair in place.

Here’s the video of the chair rocking:

Sanazaro said the chair is usually welded down for safety reasons.

And, as planned, the big rocker has helped the store attract a lot of visitors:

The World’s Largest Rocker has taken its place not only in the photo albums of both American and world travelers who have journeyed to the Sanazaros’ businesses next to the rocker.

“Have you seen our guest book?” asks Carolyn Sanazaro. Signatures from Norway, Japan, Germany, and Italy are interspersed with those from Boston, New York, California, and other points.

“One thing that surprised me this year, is the travelers from all over the world that travel Route 66,” states Dan Sanazaro. “It’s amazing.”

The store is hosting a four-mile “Run to the Rocker” Fun Run on April 4 and a “Picture on the Rocker” Day on Aug. 1.

(Photo courtesy of Jane Reed)

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