By contributor Gary Sosniecki
LEBANON, Missouri- Route 66 enthusiasts will get their first look at the new Route 66 mural in Lebanon’s Boswell Park at an unveiling ceremony at 1 p.m. Saturday (Feb. 18).
Representatives of Laclede County, the City of Lebanon and the Lebanon-Laclede County Route 66 Society will make brief remarks before the unveiling.
The mural – the first of three planned for the park – depicts an iconic 1957 Chevrolet driving Route 66 at the entrance of Lebanon. The second mural, scheduled for completion in six to eight weeks, will show a 1929 Texaco gas truck crossing the Gasconade River Bridge in eastern Laclede County.
Money still is being raised for the third mural, a tribute to the Nelson family, which operated Nelson’s Dream Village and the Nelson Tavern on both sides of Route 66 on the west side of the Missouri 5 intersection.
The mural project goes hand-in-hand with improvements to Boswell Park that embrace a Route 66 theme, including a replica of the fountain from Nelson’s Dream Village.
Boswell Park fronts Elm Street, which was Route 66’s original path through Lebanon from 1926 to 1957.
The three Lebanon murals will be the fourth, fifth and sixth Route 66 murals erected by Whitehill Enterprises, which also has two in Joplin and one in Galena, Kansas. Founder Paul Whitehill said his goal is to have 66 murals designed and built by his company along Route 66.
The 20-foot-by-10-foot murals consist of digitally printed kiln-fired tiles. Tiles for the first mural were placed last Friday and Saturday.
The Lebanon-Laclede County Route 66 Society is in charge of fund-raising for the $75,000 project. As of Tuesday, $56,100 had been raised. At least one major donation is expected at the unveiling ceremony.
Donors of at least $100 will be recognized on tile plaques on the backs of the murals. The size of the donation will determine the size of the font used in displaying the donor’s name.
Checks may be written to the Lebanon Area Foundation with the notation “Route 66 Mural Project.” They may be mailed to the Lebanon Area Foundation, P.O. Box 1042, Lebanon, MO 65536, or to the Lebanon-Laclede County Route 66 Society, P.O. Box 66, Lebanon, MO 65536, or given to any board member of the Route 66 society.