Dwight, Illinois ushered in the 90th anniversary of Route 66, with a celebration last
Thursday April 21st at the restored Ambler/Becker Texaco gas station. The birthday
party, which was the first 90th anniversary celebration in Illinois, included classic cars,
hot dogs and cake, basset hounds and an enthusiastic crowd from all around the state.
The event included an official presentation by Dwight Village President Jared
Anderson, Bill Kelly of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway and Route 66
preservationist John Weiss.
"Five years ago I was at the (Ambler/Becker) station - first chance I had to meet the
Beckers because we had presented them with the wayside exhibit which is a project
that we did. At that point in time I said that Route 66 is one of the most famous roads
in the world. Five years later Route 66 is the most famous road in the world - there is
no question about it," said Kelly during his presentation.
A special round of applause was given to Rudy, the first Route 66 “ambassetor” - a
local Guardian Angel Basset Rescue dog, owned by Larry and Emmy Little. Bill Kelly
tied an Illinois Route 66 bandana around Rudy's neck to make it official, and hopes to
continue the tradition at Dwight's annual Harvest Days and Basset Waddle, which is
held in mid-September.
The party was held at Ambler/Becker Texaco gas station located at 417 West
Waupansie Street (Old Route 66) in Dwight. The historic 1933 filling station
dispensed fuel for 66 continuous years until 1999. After major restoration work, the
building reopened as a Route 66 visitor center in May 2007. It was added to the
National Register of Historic Places in 2001.
Another big hit at the event were the 1950's style outfits many of the volunteers wore, including a vintage gas station attendant uniform worn by Paul Roeder, who has volunteered at the station for many years. Village officials also utilized the event for volunteer sign-up opportunities - an effort that was extremely successful.
Expect to see more 90th anniversary of Route 66 events throughout 2016. See you
on the road!