The Oklahoma Legislature has created a new, 21-member Oklahoma Route 66 Centennial Commission to plan, coordinate and implement a statewide effort celebrating the 100th anniversary of Historic Route 66. Governor Kevin Stitt signed the bill on April 30, 2019.
Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell, who will serve as chairman of the commission, sees the effort in terms of economic development, historic preservation and marketing.
“Through the efforts of this commission, we have a unique opportunity to pull together all of the private and public assets that have made Route 66 an iconic destination for travelers from around the world,” said Pinnell. “We have the historic buildings, attractions and roadbed. We have dedicated community leaders who recognize the significance of the route. By working together, we can add value to all of those assets.” Route 66 was officially created by federal designation on November 11, 1926, which gives the commission a little more than seven years to build momentum for the centennial celebration.
The Oklahoma Historical Society will provide support services for the commission.
“My goal is to have a kick-off symposium for all stakeholders on Dec. 3 and 4, 2019,” said Pinnell. “We will gather people from across the state to identify attractions, set goals and develop a work plan.”
The symposium will be hosted at the Oklahoma History Center in the Capitol Complex in Oklahoma City.
As stipulated in the authorizing legislation, the master plan will include suggestions for exhibits, programs and events focused on Route 66; a greater awareness of the highway’s cultural impact through popular culture; and opportunities to combine private investment and public policy to encourage further preservation of assets along the route.
For more information about the Oklahoma Route 66 Centennial Commission, call Dr. Bob Blackburn, executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society, at 405-522-5202.