We did it. At last! Monday morning’s 10 a.m. dedication of Schustek Pond in Burr Ridge, IL came off without a hitch. Even Mother Nature co-operated somewhat: it was still a humid bad-hair day for some of us (yours truly included, no matter how much hair product I used), but the cool breeze off the pond took away from the growing heat of the day, making the morning quite pleasant. Sitting on the west bank of the pond helped in that respect and gave us all a lovely view.
The North American Spine Society, on whose headquarters grounds we met, did itself proud. Staffers had set up an open-sided tent, just in case of rain, with just enough seating for our crowd, plus a refreshment table under the nearby canopied entrance to the building. Also under the canopy but across from the refreshments were exhibits from the Flagg Creek Heritage Society, the local-area history group, setting the stage for our event. The attending members of the press set up around the edges of the tent, wherever they could get a good view.
Eric Muehlbauer, executive director of NASS, was our emcee and made the introductions. Boy Scout Troop 73 from Westchester provided a color guard that included both the national and state flags. Route 66-oriented organizations were well represented by Bill Kelly, director of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway (who was there with his lovely wife) and Mary Beth DeGrush, vice-president of the Heritage Corridor CVB (Our deepest condolences go out to Cathie Stevanovich of the Route 66 Association of Illinois, who couldn’t be there because of the death of her mother in Wisconsin at the start of the holiday weekend). Alas, none of the local politicians or U.S. Senators invited came, although U.S. Rep. Bill Foster (D) of the 11th District in Illinois did send his district director, the delightful Carole Cheney (and we thank him for that! Nice meeting you, Carole. But seriously: are we to think that the mayor of Burr Ridge was that busy? Ohhh, never mind). Yours truly even got to say a few words about Route 66, its history, and what they mean to us today. Before we knew it, the colors were retired and it was time for the photo op.
Once the official part was over and the NASS staff welcomed us to a buffet of fine refreshments, we had time to reflect on the pastoral serenity of the pond and its setting. We hope that future visitors will find it a peaceful place to rest and remember this history and our favorite iconic highway.
All in all, the day came off perfectly … and our hero was properly remembered and honored. NASS is in the process of creating a marked exercise trail through the office park, and the plaque will be right on that path so that those taking the air or a walk will be able to see it easily. And if anything more ever comes of those discussions to perhaps install a wayside marker from the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway, we’ll let you know.
Update: on Wednesday, July 9th, Rep. Bill Foster read the dedication into the Congressional Record for that day. Carole Cheney provided us with a slipcased copy of the official certificate (see photo below, at the end of this post).
Update: The refreshments were from La Cuisine Catering of Hinsdale, not from the bakery preciously cited. We apologize for the error, and it now stands corrected. Also, Boy Scout Troop 73 from Westchester posted the colors at the ceremony; we erroneously identified them as being from Naperville. Our thanks to them for coming out on short notice.
Our heartfelt thanks to all who participated and all who helped. Links to media stories about the event will be posted soon to our In The News page. And that’s it for now.
Until next time,
your Route 66 reporter, Marie