The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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March 20, 2014

Third Thursday’s impact on downtown occupancy cited during dedication ceremony for Route 66 Mural Park

Bethany Kiele appreciated the conversation.

As she and her husband looked at a Nash Metropolitan displayed in a car show during Third Thursday, she said they struck up a fascinating conversation with another car owner, who talked at length about the cars he owned.

“He said he owned a bunch of different ones, although he didn’t have any at the show,” Kiele said. “All because we were looking at the same car.”

The Kieles, of Neosho, were two of hundreds who turned out for the year’s first Third Thursday event. Sponsored by the Downtown Joplin Alliance, the festival is staged on each month’s third Thursday from March to October.

Thursday’s event featured a ribbon-cutting for a new city park at Seventh and Main streets. The Route 66 Mural Park boasts two large murals that depict Joplin’s role as a place on the Mother Road.

Members of the alliance and the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce cut a ribbon to mark its dedication, which was formally delivered by Mayor Melodee Colbert-Kean.

After the ceremony, onlookers such as Glen McKinney looked at details from the two murals on the wall to a whitewall tire sculpture affixed to the pavement.

“This looks good,” McKinney said. “The way they have done it, it really shows how far the road went.”

Josh Schmutz, 34, of Joplin, took the chance to get a picture of a replica 1964 Corvette anchored to the wall by the lower mural. He said the display helped his kids understand the road more — he noted that his daughter’s mother lives in Tulsa, Okla., which is named on the mural as one of the key stops along Route 66.

“She didn’t realize that Tulsa was on 66,” Schmutz said. “A lot of the younger generation don’t really know what an important asset the road was. It’s nice to see Joplin continue to associate itself with 66, because it’s helped make Joplin what it is today.”

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