Thomas set to roll into town again
Thomas the Tank Engine will be returning to Baldwin City, but this year it will be celebrating its 60th anniversary as it rolls into town for two weekends in July.
"It's a great experience for the young kids," Event Supervisor Tim DeMott said. "Baldwin residents can ride the train anytime, but it's something magical to see the Thomas character come alive for the kids. There are many kids that kick and scream because they don't want to leave. It's a lot of excitement seeing the joy in the kids eyes."
Baldwin City resident Jack Hofman said he has purchased tickets for this year's event so his two-year-old son, Jacob, can enjoy Thomas.
"We're ready for it, because of his (Jacob) interest in Thomas," Hofman said. "He's been taking an interest in trains the last six or eight months."
The Day Out With Thomas 2005: The Celebration Tour will be coming to Midland Railway July 8-10 and 15-17. This year will mark the fourth straight year for Thomas and Friends to visit Baldwin City.
DeMott said it is tough to find enough labor each year, but Baldwin residents help out greatly.
"It's always a challenge getting the people to do it, but the Baldwin community is great support," DeMott said. "We always look forward to it. It's a lot of work and a lot of fun. It's a good fundraiser for both Midland and the Baldwin community."
Another problem for Midland has been the amount of rainfall recently. DeMott said the rain won't stop Thomas from happening, but has delayed work at the depot.
"Thomas is rain or shine, we will be here," DeMott said. "Last year we had four inches of rain for the event on one day. So by all rights we got flooded out, but we still had one of our most successful days that day."
Fences, parking lots, tents, trailers and merchandise are just a few of the many things Midland has to set up for the event. DeMott said the preparation is beginning to come along.
"We have been working on this for about eight months now," DeMott said. "Things are starting to come together and we are starting to get the site ready. We are trying to get everything cleaned up and ready to go."
A variety of activities will be set up at the Midland Railway. Those include meeting and taking a photo with Sir Topham Hatt, Imagination Station featuring hands-on arts and crafts activities, storytelling, video viewing, live music and many more 60th anniversary activities.
"There are some extra things we will be doing, but not a whole lot for this event," DeMott said. "Unfortunately, with the venue of this nature, there's not a lot we can do to specialize on the 60th year."
The Midland Railway activities also include a clown, magician, inflatable "bouncy" play enclosures and toy electric trains.
The 25-minute train ride with Thomas the Tank Engine will depart every 45 minutes, rain or shine, between 9 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. daily.
Tickets are $14 for ages two and up. Tickets are now on sale and are available by calling toll-free 866-468-7630, logging onto www.midland-ry.org or by visiting Ticketweb at www.ticketweb.com/thomas. For more information and directions contact Midland Railway at 913-371-3410 (outside the Kansas City area call toll free 800-651-0388) or www.midland-ry.org.
This event is expected to sell out, so advance purchase is recommended to ensure a choice of dates and times.
"Right now ticket sales are up about 50 percent from last year," DeMott said. "Last year we sold 13,000 tickets for the entire event and this year we have increased our capacity to 18,000 people. So it's recommended to go ahead and get your tickets in advance."
Midland is now selling tickets at the depot on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., which will save customers from having to pay the service fee.
Midland is also having a special for Baldwin residents from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on June 25-26. Baldwin residents will receive $1 off the ticket price, which will be picked up by Midland, if they buy tickets at the depot during those times. Any form of identification that proves the person is from Baldwin will be required.
Midland will not run their regularly scheduled trains June 30, July 7, July 14 and the weekends of Thomas.