Archive for Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Day Out With Thomas a success

June 19, 2002

Will and Ben Knutson were so excited to see Thomas the Tank Engine, the brothers from Leawood slept in their Thomas engineer hats all night before wearing them to Day Out With Thomas the next day.

Well, at least 4-year-old Ben's hat was an engineer hat. Two-year-old Will opted for a bright red santa hat.

"It's one of the fringe benefits of dressing yourself," their father, Pete Knutson, said.

Family friend Mike Higgins said they didn't have to worry about losing Will among the hundreds of people.

"He's definitely easy to pick out in a crowd," Higgins said. "Every other kid is wearing a Thomas hat."

It wasn't just Thomas hats children were wearing when they attended Day Out With Thomas at the Midland Railway Depot.

Thomas the Tank Engine backpacks, shirts, overalls, socks and shoes were also popular clothing items for the thousands of children that attended the event.

It was appropriate attire for those who wanted to show their love for Thomas while taking a train ride on the 17-ton, 25-foot-long replica of the popular storybook and public television character.

More than 16,000 fans from 22 states attended the event during the two weekends.

"I'd like to think it was a success," Tom Wheeler, event director, said. "It went pretty smoothly."

Wheeler said those who attended seemed to have a good time.

"As event director, I did not get one complaint," he said. "I asked and asked and asked people. But I didn't get a single complaint from anybody that attended. They were satisfied with the way things went."

One of the reasons the event ran smoothly, he said, was the help from the volunteers.

"It was a great group of volunteers," he said. "Without their help, we really couldn't have done it."

He said he was also pleased with the efforts of the Baldwin School District and its help with the shuttles and the parking.

"There was no crowding and there were no parking problems," he said.

Members of Baldwin City Fire Department were also on site every day of the event.

"They set up a fire truck and kept putting the equipment on the kids all day," Wheeler said. "Those kids were so excited to do that."

He said the nine months of planning and work on the Midland Railway fundraiser paid off.

"It was most definitely worth it," he said.

In fact, Wheeler said Midland will consider having Day Out With Thomas again next year.

"It's a strong possibility," he said.

Four-year-old Jared Mason, Tulsa, Okla., said he was just happy to see Thomas this year.

"I like him because he likes me," Jared said.

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