Aug 192011

By Linda Kor–

The Route 66 Passport was touted as a huge success by Sharlene Fouser, president of the Route 66 Association, during the Aug. 11 Holbrook Chamber of Commerce meeting. The 50,000 copies that were printed have already been dispersed to visitors along the historic route that runs between Arizona’s east and west borders.

The passports were introduced about a year ago and look similar to actual passports used for travel. The booklet holds up to 10 different stamps and each designated city has a stamp travelers can have stamped in their passport. Travelers who collect most of the stamps receive prizes for their efforts.

Despite its success, the Arizona Office of Tourism funding that paid for half of the project will no longer be made available. Fouser believes the passport encourages travelers to stop at the various towns that they may otherwise drive past, and is asking business owners to make up the difference.

In addressing the chamber board, Fouser stated that she is asking the area chambers of commerce which donated $1,000 to last year’s project to donate the same amount or more this year. In addition, Fouser hopes to appeal to local businesses with an insert she called a “Passport to Savings” advertising booklet. The booklet would include discounts at various restaurants, hotels and other businesses along the route, something that wasn’t allowed with the last print since there were Office of Tourism funds supporting the project. The rates for the advertisements would vary depending on the size.

“We’re hoping to make up enough money to match the lost funds and print 10,000 copies,” stated Fouser.

In addition, as part of the association’s Centennial Legacy projects, the group hopes to put together a geocaching project that would include Holbrook and the other Route 66 communities in Arizona.

“It’s what you might call a high tech treasure hunt. There are more than five million registered geocachers and I think we can take advantage of this,” stated Fouser.

With geocaching, players try to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using Global Positions System (GPS) enabled devices and then share their experiences online. Fouser hopes to place the geocaches in historic areas along Route 66 that will tell the finder about the area right where they stand.

The program would require a local coordinator, with the geocaches placed at least a tenth of a mile apart. Then every six months or so the coordinator would check on the geocaches to make sure they’re still intact. Anyone who may be interested in assisting with the program can contact the chamber office at 524-6558.

In other business, the chamber board discussed upcoming events. First in line is the annual Holbrook Fall Flavor scheduled on Wednesday, Oct. 19. A location in which to hold this year’s event is being sought, and the event will include food from local restaurants and a live auction. The Holiday Showcase will follow on Saturday, Nov. 19, and will feature items from local retail shops. A date remains to be set for the annual tree lighting at the historic courthouse in December and the Christmas parade is set for Saturday, Dec. 3. This year’s parade theme will be “Christmas Vacation,” referring to the classic Christmas film featuring Chevy Chase.

The board also discussed ways to provide additional funding to support the Native American dances that take place each summer on the historic courthouse grounds. This year the funds received from tips were at an all-time low even though attendance at the dances was good. The decline in funds is being attributed to the current economic situation. The chamber plans to produce a poster of the dancers with space for advertising around the edges. Also being considered is a souvenir booklet that will show the performers, their costumes, and a description of their dances and traditions for a nominal cost. The chamber is currently obtaining quotes for print costs to determine whether a full color booklet would be affordable.