What do ghosts and the Rialto Square Theatre have to do with Route 66? Everything! The famous Rialto Square at 102 N. Chicago St. in Joliet, IL is a well-known Route 66 ‘haunt’ and, supposedly, the building is haunted. On Saturday, March 7, 2015, I set out to see if ghosts could really be found there.
You see, I have an open mind about such things and do believe that not everything can be proven with the science we currently have available. Over the years, I have had several unexplained occurrences happen to me and my family. it’s just the Eastern European gypsy blood in me, and I’m more susceptible to believing in the supernatural. But ask around, and you may be surprised to learn that lots of folks have had unusual things happen to them over the years. Often, people just don’t talk about those events openly, as they don’t want to be thought crazy, illogical, or as a “kook” by non-believers.
The Rialto, the jewel of Joliet (photo copyright 2014 by M.R. Traska; all rights reserved)
The Rialto Square Theatre in downtown Joliet, Illinois at the time of its opening in 1926.
Route 66 has its share of ghost stories – mostly in the form of ghost towns out west that didn’t survive the changeover to interstates and modern living – and there are plenty of stories among the paranormal set of haunted theaters. But a haunted theater on historic Route 66? You bet: in Joliet, IL. It was even one of Al Capone’s favorite entertainment hangouts, though nobody’s seen the spirit of Scarface there, thank heavens.
You can tell spring is really here in Chicago: the lilacs are blooming, the days are warmer, overnight temps no longer approach freezing, and Route 66 got some attention on local television this weekend. Oh, and the local landscapers are now waking people up at the crack of dawn with their edge trimmers, lawn mowers and leaf blowers, earning a colorful cussing from many a sleeper … but I digress.
Drive time has arrived!
The Associated Press led off the weekend early Friday morning with a news item from Santa Fe, NM: law officers across all eight states of the Mother Road participated in a 24-hour-long campaign to get drivers on the historic road to buckle up. Local press covered it, too, mostly by citing AP. Given that seat belts and child restraints save about 13,000 lives yearly and you’re 75 percent less likely to die in a rollover crash if you’re wearing a seat belt, according to federal statistics,* it doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. But it did mean a crackdown all the way up and down the route this weekend.
* National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s figures