Quay County residents stood side by side with hundreds of Route 66 aficionados from across the country to make unique memories this weekend during Tucumcari’s third annual Route 66 celebration.
The celebration coincided with the second annual international Roadie Gathering hosted by the Route 66 Magazine.
An estimated 1,200 people joined the festivities, which were designed to be an entertaining experience found nowhere Tucumcari.
New Mexico Route 66 Association President V. Johnnie Meier was pleased to visit Tucumcari and see all the hotels full and people enjoying themselves at the various activities, but he said a speech by Mike Wallis, really stood out.
The speech told Americans to “get over it.”
“I don’t like to drive by a hotel that says ‘American owned’ because we’re all Americans; we’re all on the same team and Wallis made that point very well during his speech,” Meier said. He said Wallis was nearly killed in a recent motorcycle accident.
“Wallis’ speech had many important points but his overall message to us was ‘don’t wait until you’re nearly killed to enjoy what you already have.’”
Traveling across America capturing life on Route 66 has been very satisfying for Pulitzer Prize-nominee Wallis, who decided to write his book “Route 66: The Mother Road” after hearing people refer to the road in past tense. Knowing Route 66 was nowhere close to dead, Wallace began his mission to write a “love letter to the highway.”
Throughout all of Wallis’ Route 66 encounters he said Tucumcari still remains one of favorite stops.
“To me the Blue Swallow (Motel in Tucumcari) represents everything good about Route 66,” he said. “The late Lillian Redman was the total highway hostess. She was a gracious woman and every time I saw her Blue Swallow I thought, ‘I’m home.’”
Though everything about Tucumcari was completely opposite of 13-year-old Chris Cagle’s home in Mora, Okla., his ear-to-ear smile said he was having fun checking out antique cars and finding out where his mother and most of his family were raised.
“It’s hard to imagine where I’m from that my mom grew up in a town out here in the middle of nowhere,” Chris said.
Former Tucumcari resident Bruce Eastman traveled to the Route 66 celebration from Albuquerque because he enjoys meeting all the people, but he said what he enjoys most about the celebration is the “incredible history,” it represents.
The motorcycle games and monster truck car crush were the main attractions at Route 66 with an estimated 1,200 people at Trails West Lounge. Charley Crossley said he gave more than 200 rides in his Monster Bus.
“We had people here from all over the country,” he said. “It was great seeing all those people having a good time. We tried to appeal to people from out of town and that’s what we did. This year’s Route 66 was a success.”
Banquet Award Winners
Buckaroo Award went to Bob Bonds in recognition of his contribution to Route 66 culture by carrying on the traditions of horses and honky tonks.
World’s Coolest Supermarket award: Lowe’s
Route 66 Heritage award: Route 66 Magazine for publishing 10 years of stories about people and places on Route 66.
Route Ranger Award: Virginia Wright in recognition of her contribution to the celebration, preservation and economic revitalization in Tucumcari
Preservation Award: Clovis Sign Company for their work in restoring the historic La Cita, Paradise Motel signs and the Tee-Pee Curios tee-pee.