Route 66 in the News

A Guinness Record on Missouri Route 66

2009-02-23 22:05:25

CUBA, Mo. - The steel 42’1” rocking chair that took its place on Route 66 on April 1, 2008, celebrates its 2009 birthday with the Guinness World Records designation of Largest Rocking Chair.

The Guinness designated Largest Rocking Chair adds one more Route 66 attraction to the Show-Me State, which bills itself as “Close to Home, Far From Ordinary.” Owners of the rocker, Dan and Carolyn Sanazaro, who grew up in Cuba, built the chair adjacent to The Fanning Outpost General Store to prompt travelers to stop and visit their complex of businesses: an archery range, a taxidermy shop, and a general store with lodge style décor, convenience items, and Route 66 mementos. The businesses center around a renovated Fanning, MO community building with a history as both a bar and a voting center at different times.

Dan Sanazaro, thought the Route 66 location, four miles west of Cuba, MO (pop.3500), in Fanning, MO, needed something special to attract folks to his fledgling businesses that opened in what some might call an out-of-the-way rural setting.

With this in mind, Dan asked his friend artist/designer John Bland to design a large rocking chair reminiscent of the roadside attractions of the 30s-50s along Route 66. Bland, with no formal engineering training, drew the plans for the rocker. When the plans were tested on engineering software, they were almost dead-on. With a little adjustment, the plans were ready for building.

For this phase, Sanazaro turned to another friend welder Joe Medwick. Using American ingenuity and the love of a challenge, Medwick built the 31’ chair rockers in his shop and then trucked them to the store. Medwick fabricated the rest of the rocker on site with the chair lying on its side.

On April Fool’s Day, Sanazaro contracted two cranes to lift the chair into place on its concrete pad. Medwick then cut and welded steel to make the chair stationary for safety purposes. During this process the chair went from its original 46’ to a little over 42 feet.

The Route 66 Rocking Chair is a focal point for travelers and locals alike and appears in the photographs of car clubs, motorcycles groups, family photos, and brings smiles to the faces of those who tilt their heads to take in its height. Its coordinates bring geocachers using their GPS devices. As part of his plans for the rocker Sanazaro began the process to have the chair certified by The Guinness World Records organization. Cuba’s Mayor Kenny Killeen and family priest Father James Finder certified the official measurements and details of the rocker. Cuba Fire Department personnel measured the chair.

Officially, the chair measures 42’1” tall and 20’3” wide although heat and cold cause the chair to expand and contract. Sanazaro estimates that the rocker weighs about 27,500 pounds.

One more detail that Guinness requested was that the chair actually had to rock while it was videotaped. Joe Medwick cut the welds so that Sanazaro and some of his workers could push the chair to rock it. Medwick then re-welded the chair in place.

With the documentation mailed to the Guinness corporate offices in England, it was a waiting game for official notification. There was one setback when Guinness officials told Sanazaro that his documentation never arrived and appeared to be lost. However, it surfaced and the Guinness Certification arrived in February.

The World’s Largest Rocker has taken its place not only in the photo albums of both American and world travelers who have journeyed to the Sanazaros' businesses next to the rocker.

“Have you seen our guest book?” asks Carolyn Sanazaro. Signatures from Norway, Japan, Germany, and Italy are interspersed with those from Boston, New York, California, and other points.

“One thing that surprised me this year, is the travelers from all over the world that travel Route 66,” states Dan Sanazaro. “It’s amazing.” Local residents have also embraced The World’s Largest Rocking Chair. On April 4, 2009, a JOG, Inc., a local running club plans a 4-mile Race to The Rocker to benefit the local high school track program.

Old timers from the Fanning area drop by to tell about the old days in the area when the postmaster retrieved mail that was dropped off trackside on a hook. Farm fields and subdivisions alike still surround the rural setting and bring customers to the general store. Picnic tables and rockers on the front porch welcome customers to have a snack and rest a while. During the Christmas season, the rocker made a striking light display and was an area “must see.” Last year, the local fire department used their bucket lift to raise groups of people high in the air to the chair for pictures. The daylong event saw grandparents, babies, and families, sometimes with the family pet, take their place on the rocker for their once of a lifetime photos. In 2009, the fundraiser will be August 1 and promises to be even more popular. In December, a Route 66 mural by John Bland took its place on the side of the store building to add to the setting. A civil war canon replica sits near the rocker. Sanazaro is trying to figure out how to fire it once a week to create even more interest.

The businesses are expanding. To complement the outdoor 3-D archery range, Sanazaro is building a computer generated Techno Hunt indoor archery range to add to his full service archery business. The second annual archery tournament is Sept. 26. New taxidermy customers arrive weekly. This spring the General Store adds Mother Road Red Wine to its current offerings of Rt. 66 Red and Fanning Outpost White wines. The store has its own World’s Largest Rocking Chair candy bar. Soon an old fashioned “penny press” will create Route 66 mementos that celebrate the rocker’s new designation.

In a time of economic uncertainty, The Outpost General Store has fulfilled a niche and created a branded identity in its family friendly offerings. The staff is all about customer service and friendliness, whether it is passing the time of day with the locals or helping a traveler find a mechanic. The latest designation by Guinness World Records confirms what others have known for some months, “that’s one big rocker,” and the Sanazaros plan to keep rocking along in their second year of business, proving a little Ozark know-how can take you a long way.

To contact the Sanazaros at the Outpost General Store call 573-885-1474, email f660@misn.com, or visit the website at www.fanning66outpost.com.

~BigNews.biz

 

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