Travelers looking for moments and places from bygone times stopped by the Joliet Area Historical Museum on Saturday on their way along the Route 66 Red Carpet Corridor festival.
The annual festival takes travelers to 12 stops featuring retro gas stations, a former prison and other attractions with a welcoming committee along a route that stretches as far south as Lexington.
Or further, if you’re like Dominic Ruffalo II and Dominic Ruffalo III of Muenster, Indiana, who have made the excursion a father-son event since 2019.
“We appreciate it,” Ruffalo II said, noting that they plan to go to Springfield. “It’s nostalgia.”
“You go back in time,” Ruffalo III said.
The Ruffalos planned to have dinner at Cozy Dog Drive In, a Route 66 stop in Springfield since 1949, before the day was out.
“We get snippets of history,” said Pat Marcus of Warrenville, who tours the Red Carpet Festival every year with his friend Tim Martin of Sycamore.
The Illinois Route 66 Mining Museum in Godley and the Two Cell Jail in Gardner are some of their favorite stops. And, they noted that the people making the trip tend to get to know each other throughout the day.
“Every town along the way has a festival or a car show or something,” Martin said.
Steve Speakman of Crest Hill was driving his Model A Ford along the road.
“I appreciate it because of all the different cars you see and all the happenings in the different cities,” Speakman said.
Many red carpet goers traveled in vintage classic cars that covered the original life of Route 66, which was built in 1926 before it began to be replaced by the interstate system and eventually officially decommissioned in 1985.
Getting off the freeway is one of the attractions, said Frankfort’s Mickey Boyd, who was taking his first Route 66 trip with his wife, Marge, after the two heard a presentation on the old freeway at the library. Frankfurt public.
“It just sparked my interest in crossing the country on the two-lane roads again – not the freeway. Take your time and see the sites,” Mickey Boyd said.
Boyd got an idea of the general appeal of the historic highway in April when he visited the Joliet Museum, which features a Route 66 exhibit, and met a traveler from Mexico City who was on the Route 66 tour. .
Route 66 stretched from Chicago to Santa Monica, California. Although no longer an official highway, remnants of the original path, including Route 53 through Joliet, are mapped and marked for Route 66 travelers.
Boyd plans to drive the entirety of Route 66 with his brother from Minneapolis in a few weeks.
Chris and Victoria Letourneau travel Route 66 “in sections,” Chris said, and went all the way to Arizona.
“It’s a trip down memory lane,” he said, even though the historical highlights of Route 66 date back to their parents’ time and predate their memories.
“We love the story,” Victoria said.
One of their favorite spots along Route 66 is the Standard Oil Gas Station in Odell, part of the Red Carpet Tour and stocked with tools, auto parts and even historical re-enactments to bring the past.
“It literally looks like it was back in the day – the 1930s,” Victoria said.
Joliet Museum staff did not have an official tally of red carpet attendees. But every year they have 1,000 free stickers and cards to hand out, and most are gone by the end of the day.
“It’s so much fun,” said Karen Horn, the museum’s gift shop manager, as she greeted travelers from the red carpet. “Route 66ers are very passionate people.”