Angel of Route 66 Exhibit Opens In Kingman

Published by The Bee News

July 28, 2023

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The innovative and interactive Angel of Route 66 Exhibit was officially unveiled during a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Powerhouse Visitor Center in Kingman, Arizona on July 28, 2023. Combining StoryFile technology with displays of photographs and memorabilia, the exhibit chronicles one of the first chapters in the historic Route 66 renaissance. The tourism department in Kingman noted that, “The Route 66 Museum inside the Kingman Visitor you tells the chronological history of Route 66. However, it was missing a monumental piece – the rebirth story! So, this experience fills that gap to now tell the whole story of Arizona’s stretch of Route 66.”

The exhibit also preserves the legacy of Angel Delgadillo in a manner that will inspire future generations. “We really wanted the exhibit to be the next best thing to visiting Angel’s Barbershop and Gift Shop in Seligman and meeting Angel in person. We hope the exhibit helps more visitors get the ‘Angel Experience’ where visitors leave touched and inspired by this unique experience highlighting a one-of-a-kind individual” says Nikki Seegers with the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona.

On February 18, 1987, Angel called a meeting at the Copper Cart restaurant in Seligman, Arizona with a goal of establishing an organization to promote historic Route 66. The resultant Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona served as a template and provided inspiration for organizers in other states along the Route 66 corrdior.

Emulating the U.S. Highway 66 Association established in 1927, the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona with Angel Delgadillo as president initiated a letter writing campaign and lobbying initiative to have Route 66 in Arizona designated an historic highway. When the organization was informed that this designation would require sections of the highway to be repaired and brought up to state standards, the association shifted focus to the boards of supervisors in Mohave, Yavapai, and Coconino county. They also continued lobbying the Arizona legislature.

In November of 1987, the State of Arizona designated U.S. 66 from Seligman to Kingman as “Historic Route 66”. Shortly afterwards this designation was extended to the Colorado River for the pre 1952 alignment of the highway through the Black Mountains. This designation also served as a template for other states looking to preserve and capitalize their section of Route 66.

To celebrate the victory, on April 23rd and 24th of 1988, the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona held a dedication ceremony that included the inaugural Route 66 Fun Run. Arizona Governor Rose Mofford, and Bobby Troupe, author of the famous Route 66 song, “Get Your Kicks on Route 66”, attended the event as well as Will Rogers Jr. who gave the dedication. Music for the historic event was performed by Angel’s family band, The Delgadillo Orchestra and The Dick Clark Band.

In the decades that followed Angel Delgadillo has given thousands of interviews, advocated for the promotion and preservation of Route 66, and in the process transformed his barbershop in Seligman, Arizona into a destination for legions of Route 66 enthusiasts. His tireless efforts have also inspired countless community organizers.

The exhibit was created by Wade Bray, VP of Creative Services at SRO Productions, Inc.Bray is also the developer of the annual AAA Route 66 Road Fest in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

The ribbon cutting ceremony was attended by media from several states, dignitaries including Kingman city councilman “Smiley Ward and Mayor Ken Watkins, and Angel’s family. A full video of the ceremony is available on the Jim HInckley’s America website and YouTube channel.

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