Gigantar, a 24-foot-long guitar that was fashioned for the Illinois Rock & Roll Museum on Route 66 in downtown Joliet, was installed and later dedicated during a lighting ceremony attended by hundreds of people on Friday evening despite near-freezing temperatures.
Cheap Trick guitarist and co-founder Rick Nielsen, a member of both the Illinois Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, threw the switch on the spotlights that illuminate Gigantar.
Sculpture creator Shannon MacDonald and Illinois Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member Jim Peterik also attended the event.
Route 66 enthusiast Cheryl Eichar Jett attended the ceremony, as well:
Here’s a video from the event. The lighting occurs around the 20-minute mark:
Gigantar was funded as part of a $1.5 million Illinois DCEO Route 66 grant that Heritage Corridor Destinations received in 2022, according to a new release. The guitar hangs on the outside of the museum, which is scheduled to open later this year.
The big guitar embarked from its origins in New Jersey down a Route 66 trip in Illinois before its final stop in Joliet. According to the Bloomington Pantagraph and other social media, Gigantar made stops in the Route 66 towns of Springfield, Lincoln, Atlanta, Gardner, Bloomington, Normal, Lexington and Pontiac.
Here are some social media photos from those Route 66 stops:
Earlier last week, Jess McEntire, best known for his Route 66-inspired “Man on a Mission” double album, threatened to send a cease-and-desist letter to the museum, accusing it of infringement on the Route 66 shield-shaped electric guitar he designed years ago.
However, McEntire later happily stated on social media the museum was obtaining a license from him for the Gigantar.
McEntire stated: “A big THANK YOU to the Ill. Rock n Roll museum for being the kind of Route 66 (organization) We should all be.”
(Ceremony photo courtesy of Heritage Corridor Destinations)