18. Church official: PARISH CLERK. A church official charged with carrying out specific duties. This term was in much more common use in the 19th century.
24. Vermont senator since 2007: BERNIE SANDERS. From 1990 to 2006 he represented Vermont in the House of Representatives. He also served as mayor of Burlington from 1980 to 1999. If you ever think your vote doesn't matter, remember he won his first election by 10 votes. Deeper than that into politics we shall not venture.
And then the centrally located two-part unifier. 37. With 39-Across, seed money ... or what 18-, 24-, 48- and 58-Across each has: STARTUP.
39. See 37-Across: CAPITAL. Together, they indicate the initial investment needed to get a business going; and also, via word play, the CAPITAL city of a European country at the START of each theme entry.
The cities are --
ROME, Italy; and
1. Plane engine housing: POD. For wing mounted engines.
4. Hindu philosophy: TANTRA. Adherence to the doctrines or principles of the tantras, involving mantras, meditation, yoga, and ritual.
10. "Don't leave": STAY. Dog command?
15. Signals for firefighters: ALARMS.
16. Only state with a non-rectangular flag: OHIO. I knew this, since I am from there. Also - what's round at both ends and hi in the middle? Now - on to stuff I did not know.
20. "I'm game!": LET'S. And away we go!
22. Business abbr.: INCorporated.
23. Singer Mann: AIMEE. New one for me.
28. Gambling city on the Truckee: RENO. Nevada. The Truckee is the only outlet from Lake Tahoe, and it empties into Pyramid Lake in the great basin.
29. Golden Delicious, e.g.: APPLE. My absolute least favorite variety.
30. Hosp. recovery area: POST-OP. After surgery location.
32. Prepared: SET. Ready to go.
33. Add to the staff: HIRE. Bring on a new employee.
41. Jedi master with pointy ears: YODA.
42. Twaddle: ROT. Nonsense.
44. Business losses, figuratively: RED INK. Debits are noted in red, so, if they exceed credits, the red dominates.
45. Biting desert lizards: GILAS. Large, slow moving, venomous lizards, native to the North American southwest
47. Buddhist temple bell: GONG.
Note the family hair
54. Youthful fellow: LAD.
55. Difficult journey: TREK.
62. "__ you alone?": ARE. Can I come over?
63. Flood-anticipation precaution, briefly: EVACuation. Also for wild fires.
64. Was nearly empty: RAN LOW. In short supply.
65. Fabric flaw: RIP. Tear.
66. Dollars for quarters: RENT. Living quarters. Clever!
67. Word from a poser: CHEESE. Induces a quasi-smile in a photographic subject.
68. Thus far: YET. Up to now.
2. Fantasy meanie: OGRE.
3. "Chin up!": DON'T BE SAD. Things could be worse.
4. Touch lightly: TAP. Or PAT. Needed perp help.
5. Harlem Renaissance writer Locke: ALAIN. Alain Leroy Locke [1885-1954] was an American writer, philosopher, educator, and patron of the arts. Distinguished as the first African-American Rhodes Scholar in 1907.
7. Bench press beneficiary: TRICEPS. Muscles in the backs of the upper ams.
8. White House's 132: Abbr.: RMS. Rooms.
9. Firepit detritus: ASH. Burnt wood residue.
10. Three-dimensional: SOLID. Having length, width and height.
11. __ park: THEME. An amusement park designed around a central or unifying concept - Disney World, for example.
12. Broadcaster: AIRER. Presenter of radio or TV programming.
13. Oxen connectors: YOKES. A YOKE is a crosspiece connecting the necks or shoulders of animals, so they can pull a load together.
19. Stick for a walk: CANE.
21. Nissan sedan: SENTRA.
25. Ginger or ginseng: ROOT.
26. Builder's guideline, briefly: SPEC. Specification - detailed instruction for the project.
27. Ring exchange place: ALTAR. Wedding rings.
28. __-Rooter: ROTO. Drain pipe and sewer cleaning device, and service company of the same name.
30. "Gangnam Style" musician: PSY. Erm. Here, if you're interested.
31. Festival in the month of Adar: PURIM. A Spring festival held on the 14th or 15th of the month to commemorate the defeat of Haman's plot to massacre the Jews as recorded in the book of Esther. Deeper than that into religion we shall not venture.
34. Travel plan: ITINERARY. A planned route, including stops, if any.
35. Hit the bell: RANG. Bonged the GONG
36. Caribou cousin: ELK. Cervus canadensis, one of the largest members of the deer family; but not as large as the moose. To muddy the waters, in British English, the moose is called the ELK. Go figure.
38. Sport for equestrians: POLO. A game similar to field hockey, played on horse back, using long-handled mallets.
40. Simon who co-wrote and co-starred in "Shaun of the Dead": PEGG. [b 1970] British actor, comedian, screenwriter, and producer. Would he confuse ELK with moose?
43. Sun worshiper's mark: TAN LINE.
45. Nanny __: GOAT. A female of this animal variety. The male is called Billy. I don't know why.
46. Bread or butter: STAPLE. An important item in something, such as a diet. When the sword swallower lost his job with the circus, he fell on hard times and couldn't even provide STAPLES for his family.
48. Not so well-done: RARER. Meat cooking terms.
49. Salade niçoise morsel: OLIVE. From the city of Nice, in France, this salad also contains a variety of other ingredients, including tomatoes, hard boiled eggs and anchovies in an olive oil dressing.
50. Fox of "Transformers": MEGAN.
52. "Until next time": ADIOS. Buh-bye.
56. Cleveland's lake: ERIE. Where I come from, it's Toledo's Lake!
57. Held on to: KEPT. As, frex, the faith.
59. Tolkien monster: ORC. Evil cave dwelling creature that cannot abide the sun.
61. Little lamb's mom: EWE. A sheep in sheep's clothing.
And with that wool blanket we'll wrap up our tour. Hope you enjoyed the ride.