Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Illinois Bicentennial, 20 Oddities-- Part 5: Gemini Giant

Wilmington, 810 East Baltimore Street

The space race was at fever pitch in the mid 60s when the former owners of a diner on Route 66 changed the name of their eatery to Launching Pad Drive-In and got one of the huge muffler men statues and changed him into a space suit with helmet holding a rocket which they put in their parking lot to draw people into their place.

The Launching Pad's new co-owner, Tully Garrett, said, "They bought him for one reason only:  So people would get out of their cars, take pictures and smell the hamburgers."

The 30-foot tall statue is one of hundreds of fiberglass "Muffler men" who once lined roadways, cradling car mufflers and assorted props in their brawny arms.

The recently reopened Launching Pad doesn't sell burgers as of yet, but it's a great place to grab a cup of coffee, chat with people and load up on Route 66 stuff.

So glad the place has finally reopened after being closed for many years.  A definite stop on your Route 66 trip.


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