Inaugural Blue Carpet Corridor rolled out for the year

The inaugural Blue Carpet Corridor rolled out June 13-14 and we're leaving it unrolled! Part of the idea behind the BCC was not just to celebrate once a year, but to help our communities celebrate 66 and attract visitors all year long. To that end, we're asking our communities to have their passport stamps and extra passports at a designated spot all year which we'll list soon on the website. And we'll add news of events and attractions in our communities all year. You can see photos of our first event weekend on our scrapbook page at www.bluecarpetcorridor.org

A few thoughts about our first annual event - despite the rain and the threat of rain, and some kinks to work out before next year's event, the consensus of opinion is that the first-time event was a rousing success! Check out Geoff Ladd's blog on the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway site. http://www.illinoisroute66.org/Stories-of-the-Road/Details/ArticleID/4748/Traveling-the-Very-First-Blue-Carpet-Corridor



First of all, we united 18 communities under one organizational umbrella (which we needed, pun intended). Eighteen communities that more or less agreed to hold some sort of event or activity on the same weekend. Chatham, Edwardsville, and Troy had it a bit easier with already-established festivals - Chatham's 68th American Legion Homecoming, Edwardsville's 18th annual Route 66 Festival, and Troy's 2nd annual Downtown Days. However, these three festivals all traditionally end on Saturday night, which left the three cities facing the choice of adding Sunday activities and volunteers, or letting visitors find an empty passport stop.

The next positive thing that comes to mind is variety! There were ceremonies, speeches, cook-offs, costumed characters, musicians, entertainers, bands, magicians, children's activities, movies shown outdoors, classic cars, tractors, tours, exhibits, displays, dinosaurs, book signings, business grand openings, mud bogs, carnival rides, photo ops, food, beverages, new murals, car cruises, and other unique and original activities.

Publicity - Springfield led the field, with numerous stories in the Journal-Register and a story or two on WICS Channel 20 TV. Litchfield radio station WSMI did interviews and podcasts. Virtually every newspaper along the corridor ran at least one story. Press releases ran in the Illinois and Missouri Route 66 Associations' news magazines, in the Prairie Land Buzz and in newspapers, and on the websites of the Route 66 Association of Illinois and Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway.

Serving as the president of an organization and/or the director of an event might make one more visible or one's name more recognizable, but I could never in a million years have done this alone. A president, chair, or director is dependent on his/her support, and mine was great.

So, the first in my list of "thank-yous" is to the amazing Dave Tucker from Gillespie. If an organization's vice-president ever did far more than his share, it would be Dave. He has served not only as vice-president, but as webmaster, fundraiser, procurer of supplies, wise counsel, and trip planner. 

And a huge thank-you to all the following:

- our Secretary Suzanne Gray and Treasurer Jim Wreath who helped keep us on track with meeting notes, financials, ideas, moral support, and leadership on the bus trip, which logistics prevented either Dave or me from being a part of.

- Country Financial and United Community Banks for sponsoring our passports! These two generous sponsors enabled us to have passport books thicker than a tissue and decorated with color!

- Bill Kelly, Geoff Ladd, and everyone at Route 66 Scenic Byway for unflagging support in so many ways, from our very first meeting through this past weekend! 

- several outstanding local merchants and services, who all went above and beyond to deliver great products to us in a speedy manner and at the best prices they could possibly give us. These are:  Creative Flair and George Press in Litchfield, Cubby Hole in Carlinville, and Creative Options in Edwardsville. 

- Stacy Conn who worked many hours on our website and added many bells and whistles.

-  Louise Jett who designed our logo!

- our community representatives who drove to Carlinville and/or Litchfield for meetings (there is an 80-mile spread between our northernmost and southernmost towns), evangelized for support in their respective communities, and worked long hours to make their events and activities materialize.

Personally, I want to thank some people near and dear to me, who brainstormed with me, shared their opinions, ran errands, made phone calls, proofread, took photos, gave me space when I needed it, or just listened (endlessly, I'm sure) to my ideas and concerns - Cindy Reinhardt, Steve Rensberry, Karen Stoeber, and Joe Sonderman. You guys are amazing.

While this year's inaugural event is now history, we're already looking forward to next year's event! That's June 11-12, 2016! What's going to be new and improved for next year? Stay tuned!