This week's First Friday celebrates Kingman's Welcome Arch
KINGMAN – There now stands a Kingman arch on Beale Street that welcomes tourists and travelers to historic downtown and the many businesses and restaurants it has to offer, and the community will celebrate completion of the project 15 years in the making at an arch dedication at this month’s First Friday event.
Josh Noble, City tourism director, quoted the Kingman Wayfinding Plan from 15 years ago when the project was in its infancy. At the time back in 2003, the City saw the arch as “The most important gateway into the historic downtown area.”
“I think it’s going to have an impact,” Noble said of the arch. “You can already see just driving up from I-40 coming down Beale Street that it’s prominent. “It’s a big flag, ‘Hey, we’re here.’”
Councilwoman Jamie Scott Stehly plays an active role in the Kingman Main Street group and says the arch is “stunning” and “perfect.”
“The day the welcome arch was completed, my daughters and I drove through it and we all felt this sort of magic,” she said. “Driving under the arch has become a new tradition for our family and every single time we are just tickled by the experience.”
The Kingman Area Chamber of Commerce began the project in earnest in 2015 when the chamber was picked as one of 50 finalists in the nationwide America’s Best Communities Competition and awarded $50,000 to develop a community revitalization plan. The arch was the highlight of that plan and the project was handed to City engineers in 2016.
The $170,000 sign welcoming visitors to downtown Kingman, the “Heart of Route 66,” was erected June 12. Noble says the timing is perfect since this year Kingman is celebrating its 66th anniversary as an incorporated city.
“We realized that this would be Kingman’s 66 year anniversary, so we thought this would be a good opportunity to celebrate the arch not just as something we’re putting up, but as a gift to the community,” Noble said.
That gift to the community will be lit for the first time just after dusk at the arch dedication starting at 7:45 p.m. Friday in conjunction with the First Friday event. First Friday festivities begin at 4 p.m. and run till 9 p.m. This month there will be even more to do downtown in honor of the dedication.
“It’s going to be a hot day, but we’ve got water slides, slip and slides, and the fire department will have some water activities,” Noble said.
The arch is a sweet treat for the City, and Victoria’s Sugar Shack will be giving out 1,000 sweet treats of their own, free cupcakes that Noble says are “sure to delight.” There will also be a classic and custom car show on Beale Street west of the arch. The first 66 cars, which are asked to enter from Grandview Avenue, will receive a commemorative dash magnet.
The event is not only a celebration of the arch and historic downtown but of all the efforts that have gone into making Kingman what it is today. The first of those efforts, a street sign at the corner Hall Street and Broadway Avenue, was installed in August 1952. Multiple City departments will be at First Friday hosting stations and giving demonstrations on what they do to help keep Kingman be the “Heart of Route 66.”
Noble said the arch couldn’t have come to fruition without the help numerous departments such as Engineering, Public Works, Parks and Recreation, and the Streets Division. Engineering staff also recognize the efforts of designer and builder, YESCO, general contractor Desert Construction, Jake and Blain Acton of AB Concrete and Walker Electric.
Those wanting to truly indulge in the history of Kingman and Route 66 can do so by heading over to the Powerhouse Route 66 Museum and the Mohave Museum of History and Arts, both of which will remain open until 7:30 p.m.
Stehly called the arch a great draw for tourists and said the project has “renewed our sense of community pride.”
“It is the mark that we will leave, our legacy, and we will tell our grandchildren and great-grandchildren about how we were there the first time they turned the lights on at the arch. What a celebration that is going to be,” she said.