Archive for Thursday, June 7, 2007

Stewarts’ Thomas tradition takes hold

June 7, 2007

Every family has annual traditions, most of which are associated with holidays. The Stewart family's tradition includes a trip to Baldwin City to see a blue train.

Bernetta Stewart and her two sons, Rhoades and Victory, have traveled from Chanute to Baldwin for the past several years to visit Thomas the Tank Engine. It has become their annual family tradition.

"Some people eat turkey on Thanksgiving and some people open Christmas presents on Christmas day, but we come to Thomas," said the 9-year-old Rhoades Stewart.

Rhoades and his mother have attended the Thomas event every year for the past six years. Victory, 4, has been the last four years.

Although the event and its activities are nearly identical each year, the Stewart family finds ways to have fun each summer.

"It's not that we come to do different things, it's the fun stuff you can do year after year," Bernetta Stewart said. "It's the same Marty (the magician) show each year, but it's fun. I love coming here."

The Stewarts also traveled to another Thomas event but didn't find it as entertaining as the one at Midland Railway.

"We flew to (Strasburg) Pennsylvania one year and this one is much better," Bernetta Stewart said. "This is better than Pennsylvania."

Victory Stewart is now the bigger Thomas fan of the two sons, but it didn't used to be that way.

"I'm not a huge fan anymore, but a few years ago I wouldn't get away from Sir Topham Hatt," Rhoades Stewart said.

The family loves Thomas so much the third floor of their house is painted and dedicated to the train. They also have other traditions that take place while in Baldwin.

One of those is riding in the back of the train at least once. Another is staying in the same room at The Lodge. For the past two years, they have stayed through the weekend, going to the event every day.

"We come all three days," Bernetta Stewart said. "We even have our same room at the Lodge. We made room reservations six months in advance for the same room. We want to be on the end next to the miniature golf course."

They enjoy their stay at the Lodge for several reasons, but mostly because of the miniature golf course and the animals at the farm.

The Lodge offers them a tour of their animal farm. They are able to see and feed deer, antelope and zebras.

"The kids got to go out to the farm and feed the zebras," Bernetta Stewart said. "We didn't know anything about it, until we stayed here."

Rhoades prefers the miniature golf, especially early in the morning.

"It's pretty much the highlight of my summer," Rhoades Stewart said of the vacation. "I come here for the mini golf, though."

The Stewarts were one of hundreds of families to visit Baldwin last weekend. The Midland depot was crowded all three days with visitors from all over the country.

Cassandra Wright and her son Dominic, 4, came from Manassas, Va., to attend the event. She said Dominic loves Thomas and enjoyed his second time to the event. They also attended A Day Out With Thomas in Pennsylvania.

"He absolutely loves him, so we have to come," Wright said. "He is one of the biggest Thomas fans. He has all of his movies. He also has the plastic, metal and the wooden trains."

Thomas the Tank Engine will remain in Baldwin City this weekend. The trains will run from 9 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Friday and Sunday, then from 9 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. Saturday.

Tickets for the event are $16 for ages two and up. Tickets are on sale now and are available by calling toll-free 866-468-7630 or logging onto www.Ticketweb.com. For more information and directions, contact the Midland Railway at 800-651-0388 or visit www.midland-ry.org.

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