FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Route 66, also known as the “Mother Road” and the “Main Street of America,” was conceived 90 years ago Saturday in downtown Springfield. On April 30, 1926, a group of businessmen led by Cy Avery of Tulsa and Springfield’s John T. Woodruff sent a telegram from Springfield’s Colonial Hotel to the Bureau of Public Roads in Washington, D.C., with the suggestion of “66” as the number for the then-new Chicago to Los Angeles highway. While thousands of Route 66 enthusiasts from around the world stop in Springfield each year as they make their way across the Main Street of America, many don’t stay long because frankly, there’s not a lot to see. But that’s changing, thanks to a collective effort by the City of Springfield, Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau, Route 66 Association of Missouri, West Central Neighborhood Alliance, History Museum on the Square and various business owners to redevelop and build interest in Springfield’s stretch of the Mother Road. “Springfield has really come together to try to make our downtown great again. Embracing our Route 66 history is an important part of spotlighting authentic places and experiences in Springfield,” says Rusty Worley, executive director of the Downtown Springfield Association. In August 2014, City officials celebrated the grand opening of the Birthplace of Route 66 Roadside Park on West College Street, between Fort and Broadway avenues. While the City is funding infrastructure improvements along the College Street stretch of Historic Route 66 between Grant Avenue and Kansas Expressway, such as the Route 66 Plaza at College and Broadway, it must leverage its investment in the project with private donations and other funding sources. The Roadside Park’s first donor-funded project, the Red’s Giant Hamburg sign replica, was made possible by generous Springfield donors in 2014. On Tuesday, May 3, the City is participating in Give Ozarks, a one-day fundraising marathon hosted by Community Foundation of the Ozarks. The City’s goal is to raise $5,000 toward the building of the Route 66 Plaza Clock Tower. Those interested in helping fund the project can donate from midnight-11:59 p.m. May 3 at giveozarks.org/2016/route-66-sgf. A larger plan to revitalize Historic Route 66 through other parts of Springfield could roll out in phases, as the City gauges interest and potential funding. “We want to see Springfield become THE stop along Route 66,” says City Manager Greg Burris. “Our Route 66 history is a source of community pride.” The Birthplace of Route 66 Festival, now in its sixth year, drew more than 20,000 people to downtown Springfield in 2015, and is expected to bring in even more this year. The festival will be held Aug. 12-14 in downtown Springfield. City of Springfield Director of Public Information & Civic Engagement Cora Scott said 2015’s inaugural Birthplace of Route 66 Parade brought in about 5,000 spectators to watch roughly 425 classic cars, trucks, motorcycles, floats and performing groups. Roughly 600 spectators watched from a City grandstand area at the Springfield Expo Center lot and thousands more lined Route 66 (St. Louis) from Glenstone to the Square. “It was really rewarding to see all of those happy faces cheering on the folks in the parade, many of whom where from out of town, out of state, or even in a few instances, from out of the country,” Scott said. ### For more information about the history of Route 66 in Springfield, please contact History Museum on the Square’s John Sellars at 268-7760 or Route 66 Association of Missouri’s David Eslick, who can be reached through Melissa Haase at the City of Springfield, 864-1003 or cell 417-536-7748. For more information about Route 66 tourism in Springfield, please contact the CVB at 417-881-5300. For more information about Route 66 redevelopment and its effect on Springfield’s West Central Neighborhood and downtown, please contact DSA’s Rusty Worley at 417-831-6200.