Day 3: October 20, 2017
Learning, gawking, and singing along

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The conference began in earnest today. Somewhere in the middle of that first picture, event chairperson Debyjo Ericksen is getting things rolling and introducing the first speaker. The second picture is of Cory Jobe, Illinois State Tourism and Travel Director. After delivering the keynote speech, Cory introduced Tully Garrett and Holly Barker, the new owners of The Launching Pad. The restaurant, home to the Gemini Giant, has been vacant for several years and its purchase by this obviously enthusiastic couple is the current hot story of Route 66. If they don't offer a sandwich or sundae called the Holly Tully, I'm going to be very disappointed.

The morning was filled with Bill Thomas of The Road Ahead Initiative and Louis Ferrara of the Illinois Film Office.

Quite a few conference attendees headed up the street for lunch at the Joliet Route 66 Diner. The place is cool and the food good but they were a little overwhelmed by our group. Maybe best to go alone or with just a few friends.

Back at the conference, Ron Jones, The Tattoo Man of Route 66 had moved his '56 Chevy in front of the museum where it looked pretty good.

The previous panel had a connection to the imminent concert and here's another. Yes, The Road Crew is responsible for The Tattoo Man of Route 66 and they're performing at the Rialto tonight and one of the members is Joe Loesch and Joe Loesch was the presenter that started off my afternoon. The AV club let Joe down and he had to narrate an invisible slide show. Even without the visuals, Joe shared a lifetime of Route 66 memories with a room full of listeners. I chose Greg Peerbolte and Lorin Schab to finish out my afternoon. Greg talked about Route 66 history in Joliet and Lorin told us about Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie.

I took some pictures at the Rialto then headed off for dinner and came back and took some more. Fortunately our dinner location was nearby as they were more overwhelmed by our group than the diner had been despite being aware of our arrival days in advance.

Then I went inside. The Rialto opened in 1926 as "one of the ten most beautiful theaters in the nation". I've marveled at its exterior several times and I've seen photos of its interior but I know that my jaw dropped when I stepped through the doors. There are lots of excellent pictures floating around the internet, and the many gifted photographers that were there Friday night will add even more. No problem. There will never be too many.

Not every seat in the theater was filled but my picture is hardly representative. It was taken very early as what turned out to be a very respectable crowd worked their way in. Conference attendees were treated to the first three rows. Professional photographer David Schwartz would prow the stage to capture the band during the concert. Here he's snapping Debyjo welcoming the audience and announcing the band. Don't worry, Dave. I've got your back.

Beyond the band in that first shot is pro photographer Judy Walker who would also prow the stage during the show. The individual shots are of Woody, Joe, Don, and Jason. The Road Crew played many of the original Route 66 themed songs their fans have come to love, and they also played several covers including some that even hardcore fans were hearing them do for the first time. They also, as they have done several times in the past, debuted a brand new song written especially for the event. The Miles of Possibility Route 66 Conference has become an annual event that now has its own Miles of Possibility song. It has yet to be recorded but I think we all know what the boys will be doing in their next studio session.

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