Route 66 news: new events calendar update, and photos!

Hello again, fellow roadies!  Have you shaken off the dust of winter yet?  It’s Memorial Day weekend, when the Route 66 cruising season here in Illinois begins in earnest, and we have an updated events calendar for you below.  Bring out those convertibles and dust off those bikes, because it’s time to hit the road! Even if you only warm up locally to start.  Which can be fun.  Just remember to buckle up wherever you go, because the Smokies will be out in force this weekend on all the major highways across the nation, making sure you use your seat belts and handing out stiff fines if you don’t.  Better safe than sorry, right?   Right.

picnic 1 - classic Rt.66 rides - a bike, a 'Vette & a ragtop Mustang - blog (MRTraska)

If you’re a visitor in Chicago and looking for exciting things to do this weekend, you can kick off the touring season with your bicycle:  Sunday is the day for the annual Bike The Drive!  Ever wanted to see our beautiful Lake Shore Drive up close and personal along its entire length, from the far North Side down to the far South Side – without having to fight car, bus and motorcycle traffic?  On Sunday morning you get your wish:  from 5:30 to 10:15, large vehicle traffic will be banned and access to all but bicycles will be blocked off, so that you can see our fair city’s lakefront in all its glory with lots of other cyclists for company.  Please note:  there is a registration fee if you wish to participate; it’s a bit stiff for adults but much cheaper for the kids if they’re under 16 – that way, the whole family can participate (see link below for details).  You can’t beat the experience.

Don’t have a bike with you?  No problem!  You can easily rent an inexpensive sky-blue Divvy bike in several places in or near Grant Park, but it’s better to make plans now and reserve one while you can – because there’ll be stiff competition for one early Sunday morning (or better yet, get a day pass if you expect to use a bike for getting around town, which we highly recommend).  Don’t forget to bring along water to drink and snacks in your fanny pack or basket, and bring sunglasses and sunscreen even though it’ll be early morning: there’s a lot of light reflecting off the lake.  Find trip tips here.

Photo courtesy of John Lankford via ChooseChicago blog

Photo courtesy of John Lankford via Chicago Like a Local, the ChooseChicago blog

And now to get you in the mood for cruising, here’s a slide show of photos from last summer’s Route 66 Association of Illinois annual picnic, held as always at the lovely Sugar Grove Nature Center in historic Funks Grove, IL, our favorite Route 66 town for maple sugaring.  The calendar begins below the slide show. Enjoy!

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Your own Route 66 reporter,

2015 Route 66 calendar – May through September


May 24 – Bike The Drive event on Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, 5:30am–10:15am; registration fees start at under $47 for adults and $16 for children age 16 and younger.  Register at

May 29-31 – 30th annual Chicago Gospel Music Festival, Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park, Chicago; for full schedule and other details, see


June 6 – Route 66 Cruise-in, McLean County Historical Museum, Bloomington-Normal, IL; for details, visit

June 7 – Romeoville Route 66 Car and Bike Show, 9am-4pm at Romeoville High School, 100 N. Independence Blvd., Romeoville, IL; for further information, call the park district at 815-886-6222 or visit  To register a vehicle for the event, contact Showcase Classics at 866-4RSHOWS or see website at

June 7 – Lidice Massacre Commemoration organized by the Czechoslovak American Congress and the city of Crest Hill, 11am in Lidice Park, about 1 mile west of Route 66/IL 53:  it’s located 1 block north of Theodore Street and ½ block west of Raynor Avenue at the corner of Prairie Avenue, in Crest Hill, IL; parking available at the lot in St. Joseph Park at Raynor and Theodore.

June 10 – 21st annual Mother Road Ride Rally, starting at the La Quinta Inn in Willowbrook, IL and going all the way to Santa Monica, CA over a 12-day period; for details or to register, see

June 12-13 – 18th annual Edwardsville Route 66 Festival and car show, Edwardsville, IL; more info at

June 12-14 – 32nd annual Chicago Blues Festival at the Petrillo Band Shell, Columbus Drive and Jackson Drive, Grant Park, Chicago.  This year’s headliner on Saturday night will be Buddy Guy; for those who want to bicycle to the blues fest (that or public transit is highly recommended), there will be a bike valet service sponsored by Mountain Dew.  For details and a complete schedule of events, visit

June 12-14 – The Route 66 Association of Illinois 26th Annual Motor Tour, from Berwyn to the Chain of Rocks Bridge, this year subtitled “Miners, Mobsters and the Mother Road,” will include the inaugural Blue Carpet Tour in southern Illinois.  For details, call Marty Blitstein at 708-444-1312 or see

June 13-14 – First annual Blue Carpet Tour, from Chatham to Collinsville; for more info, visit

June 27 – NEW LOCATION: 31st annual World’s Largest Block Party, sponsored by Old St. Patrick’s Catholic Church on Route 66 and co-sponsored by WKQX 101 FM; to be held this year at the UIC Festival Lot, 1145 S. Morgan St. near Roosevelt Road.  Tickets went on sale Monday, May 18 at 10am; for further information, contact


July 12 – Eastland Disaster memorial dedication, Section 16, and Czech association picnic, Bohemian National Cemetery, 5255 N. Pulaski Rd., Chicago; for a map showing the location of section 16, see and for more info about the event, contact Chuck Michalek at or visit

July 18 – Abe Lincoln Festival, McLean County Historical Museum, Bloomington-Normal, IL; for details, visit

July 24 – Eastland Disaster centennial anniversary; to visit the actual site of the disaster, go to the south bank of the Chicago River at LaSalle Street in downtown Chicago and look just east of the intersection near the railing to find the historical plaque (then look down at the river: that’s the spot where the Eastland turned over). For more info on the history of the disaster, see

July 25 – Route 66 Linear Music Festival, from Chicago to Santa Monica; for music all along the route, see details at

July 25 – National Route 66 Day (maybe in Arizona … but in Illinois?? It’s the first we’ve heard of it; if you know more about this event happening in states other than Arizona, please send an e-mail with details to; for more info, see


August 29 – NEW DATE: annual Berwyn Route 66 Car Show, on Ogden Avenue/Route 66 between Ridgeland Avenue and Oak Park Avenue, Berwyn, IL; for more info or to register your vehicle for the show, see the website at


September 3-6 – 36th annual Chicago Jazz Festival, the largest free jazz festival in the world (and it’s FREE! Did we mention that?); Millennium Park, with Sept. 3 events at the Chicago Cultural Center across the street on Michigan Avenue. For a full schedule and other details, including special parking packages, visit:

September 5 – Hodgkins Quarry Days, Hodgkins, IL; no details yet, but check the website later for details:

September 6 – Chicago Historic Route 66 Classic Car Show, on Ogden Avenue between Ridgeway Avenue and Springfield Avenue (east of Pulaski Road, about 3800S) in Lawndale, Chicago; for more information, contact Drew Goldsmith at: or see website at:

September 25-27 – International Mother Road Festival and Car Show, Springfield, IL, probably the largest car show along Route 66 in the state; for more info, see the fest’s Facebook page at: or to register your vehicle, visit:



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