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Tue, May 26

Great Racers drive into downtown Williams today

Tonight Williams is an overnight stop for The Great Race and the chamber wants as many people as possible to head downtown.

“Events begin at 4:30 p.m., and the parade begins at 4:45 p.m., on Route 66,” said Diana Croteau, offic manager and promotions coordinator for the Williams-Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce. “The parade will include vintage cars, local Girl and Boy Scouts and era costume characters.

“We encourage everyone to come out dressed in their vintage costumes and be part of this great event.”

The cars in the parade will be local vintage cars and there will also be a car display between Sixth and Seventh streets. A vintage bicycle display will also be set up by Phillip Langston.

“There will be somebody dressed up for each era,” said Donna Cochran, executive director of the chamber. “In the parade is going to be the 1929 Williams Volunteer Fire Department fire engine, the Girl and Boy Scouts, a 1920s car with flappers and a 1930s convertible.”

The historic vehicles will be filled with historic characters from the different eras including Bonnie and Clyde, Elvis Presley, Betty Boop and the Great Gatsby.

Life-size paper mache displays will also line the streets.

The Great Race is a moving history of the automobile and 20-year-old international event with more than 100 competitors. The racers drive 50- to 90-year-old vehicles and compete for the world’s richest purse in this vintage car competition. This year the title sponsor in Williams is the Route 66 Roadstore.

For the event, downtown will be transformed for the theme of ’50 Years of Kicks on Route 66’. Era’s include the 20’s through the 60’s and a different era will be represented on each downtown block. Route 66 will be closed between First and Seventh streets to accommodate the Great Race starting at 8 a.m. and lasting until midnight. Railroad Avenue will be turned into a two-way during the same hours. Cars will be on display until 8:30 p.m.

“The opening ceremonies will begin with the United States Naval Ceremonial Band,” said Croteau.

The band has accompanied the Great Race for 11 years.

The city is competing to be the ‘Best Overnight Stop’ and win the Great American City Award and $5,000 for our local library. Last year Williams won for ‘Best Pit Stop.’

It’s not too late to get involved, Croteau said.

“We still have a few opening for Host a Racer sponsorships,” she aid. “Call the chamber if you would like to host a racer today.”

Helping out with the event are representatives from the Bill Williams Senior Center, library and city parks and recreation department. The Bill Williams Buckskinners and the American Legion Cordova Post No. 13 are cooking a deep pit barbecue dinner for the racers.

“We just want to get everybody out there,” Croteau said. “We really want the community involved.”

Anyone who wants to volunteer is asked to head downtown at 4:30 p.m. today.

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