On February 18, 1987, some 32 years ago, a group of 15 passionate individuals from across the state met at the Copper Cart restaurant in Seligman and formed the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona. Over the next year, the group successfully lobbies Arizona State Officials to dedicate the original stretch of Route 66 an Historic Highway.
The following April, the Association celebrates by hosting the first Annual Route 66 Fun Run® with Arizona Governor Rose Mofford cutting the ribbon and Will Rogers Jr. attending as Grand Marshal. In 1989, Bobby Troup, who wrote the highway’s anthem ‘Get Your Kicks on 66’, attends the Route 66 Fun Run and Peter Jennings features Old Route 66, interviewing Association President Jerry Richard of Kingman on the ABC Television’s evening news. That year, four other states form Route 66 Associations; by 1991, all eight states have an association.
Over the next three decades, the Association was awarded 14 grants totaling more than $2M dollars to facilitate historic preservation, tourism, and marketing to the Route 66 communities of Arizona. They received the Governor’s Cooperative Marketing Award in 2011 for their Arizona Route 66 Passport. The Association was the driving force behind installation of National Scenic Byway signage across the Route in 2006. They secured All-American Road designation in 2010: the most distinguished National designation held by only 42 roads in the US. They also raised over $30,000 for the opening of the Route 66 Museum in the Powerhouse by raffling off a 1964 Corvette in 1995.
What’s in store for the next 32 years? The Association is currently replacing the Roadside Attraction signs that are located at iconic spots across Arizona. The original signs were installed in 2003, by The Hampton Inn, but had become faded and worn. The installation of the signs will happen throughout the rest of February. The Arizona Route 66 Passport has been such a successful tool to promote all communities along the road, that the fourth print will be released later this year. The Association is also in the beginning planning stages for the Route 66 Centennial Celebration in 2026. The celebration will highlight the unique communities across Arizona, but also the special experience we create all together. The majority of the planning will happen at the Association’s All-Community Meetings in the summer where other preservation projects may be discussed and launched.
The Association has been housed in the Historic Powerhouse on Route 66 in Kingman, Arizona since the landmark opened in October 1997. It is a non-profit organization working to preserve, promote and protect Route 66 across Arizona.