Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner led a parade Sunday of hundreds of motorcycles to four Route 66 sites to celebrate the state’s bicentennial.
According to the Herald-News in Joliet, Rauner and 300 to 500 other riders made stops at the Launching Pad Drive-In in Wilmington, the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum in Pontiac, Kelly’s on 66 restaurant in Lexington and The Mill in Lincoln.
The motorcycle ride, which began in Shorewood, ended at the governor’s mansion in Springfield with a barbecue. The ride benefited the Chicago Honor Flight Association, a charity that recognizes senior war veterans by flying them to Washington, D.C. to tour memorials built in their honor.
Here’s video of Rauner and the group stopping at the Launching Pad, including photo ops at the site’s Gemini Giant statue:
During a stop in Pontiac, here’s an excerpt of what the local newspaper reported:
He stated he’d been an advocate of Route 66 “his whole life” and that he’d ridden and driven on it many times.
“This is the Mother Road,” he said. “This is the most famous highway in America, one of the greatest highways in the world and this is what Illinois is all about.”
Here’s video of the group at Pontiac:
At The Mill, one rider told the Lincoln newspaper the caravan opened his eyes to new attractions on 66:
Jacque and Phil Arnold, of Wilmington, said they have done the full Route 66 trip, which starts in Chicago and ends in California and have enjoyed traveling on the Mother Road.
“We always find new things while traveling on Route 66. Even though it’s hot, we are still having a good time,” said Jacque Arnold.
“We would have never found Kelly’s, in Lexington, but their lunch was delicious,” said Phil Arnold, who serves as the Chief of Police in Wilmington.
Illinois became the nation’s 21st state on Dec. 3, 1818.
Rauner has his legion of critics, but he’s become a consistent supporter of Route 66 as governor. He’s led other Governor’s Rides down the Mother Road, attended the opening of The Mill museum, signed several pieces of Route 66-related legislation and visited Funks Grove Maple Sirup during a small-business tour.
(Image of Bill Kelly, left, of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway and Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner at the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum in Pontiac via the governor’s Facebook account)