Silly walk, or else

Eric Fisher

Wilmington residents may have to learn to how to properly do the “Silly Walk,” or face a possible fine.
The act is the latest effort by city officials to gain international attention as Wilmington becomes the first city in Illinois on historic Route 66, and possibly only the second throughout the 2,451-mile length of the Mother Road, with a designated Silly Walk crosswalk.
The crosswalk designation may go up as soon as Saturday, at North Water and Jackson streets, on the west side of the roadway. The location was announced Monday.
“We think this is the perfect spot for a Silly Walk crosswalk,” commented interim city administrator Frank Koehler. “It is the exact middle of the downtown district and it will be in front of the Route 66 mural that is already attracting Route 66 travelers. The key to getting people to Silly Walk though, may be enforcement.”
How much that fine will be for those who fail to Silly Walk has yet to be determined.
The Silly Walk gained international fame in 1970 when actor John Cleese performed it on the British television show “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.”
Cleese is a bowler-hatted civil servant seen walking the streets of London in a very peculiar manner. His unusual gait takes him to an office called The Ministry of Silly Walks where he passes co-workers in the hallway doing their own little Silly Walks.
A man waiting in his office explains that he is there seeking grant money to develop his Silly Walk. He demonstrates his Silly Walk to Cleese who responds that his walk is not particularly silly and the ministry can’t help him.
Silly Walk skits were a Monty Python staple for years.
It takes precisely 16 steps to cross Jackson Street at North Water Street. Wilmington residents would have to take 12 steps in Silly Walk fashion if they were to mimic those done on the show.
“It would be up to each resident to decide,” Koehler said. “They could take four regular steps first, then Silly Walk, or they could start with the 12-step Silly Walk before walking normal through the rest of the crosswalk.”
Mike Donovan at Two Hounds Antique store on the north end of the crosswalk thinks the Silly Walk designation is a terrific idea.
“I can’t wait to see people doing the Silly Walk by our store. Imagine how many people traveling Route 66 will want to stop here when they see that Wilmington has a Silly Walk. You can’t tell me they’ll pass up the opportunity to stop and take a photo of someone doing the Silly Walk.”
Donovan hinted that there have been a couple of patrons leaving the local watering holes who probably already qualify with their own Silly Walks.
But for those less inebriated, lessons for performing the Silly Walk properly will be given April 1 at the crosswalk. Anyone who would like to learn the Silly Walk should show up at noon at North Water and Jackson street.