All-aboard again for Thomas
Hundreds of children visited their favorite cartoon train here last weekend and thousands more are expected here during the next three days.
A Day Out with Thomas: 2008 rolled into town for its annual two-weekend run. The event is once again being held at the Midland Railway.
"It was a good first weekend," said Tim DeMott, event coordinator. "The rain held off until after we packed up Sunday evening and it's always good to have nice weather. Numbers are down a bit, but that's expected a bit with the economy."
Families filled the Midland grounds for the inaugural weekend of the event. One of those was local resident Bill Clement, his children and grandchildren. They attended the event on Sunday. He rode the train with his granddaughter, Maryn Clement, 18 months.
"She's not quite 2 years old yet, but she's old enough to take the train ride and enjoy it," Clement said of his granddaughter. "It turned out that she is at that age where she can have fun with it. She knows all about Thomas and has lots of his stuff. She had a really good time. It was a nice day and not overly crowded."
Katy and Robert Kittle of Douglass brought their grandchildren to town to see Thomas the Tank Engine Friday. After riding the train and enjoying other activities, Katy said the children were having a blast.
"My daughter and her husband went to Cancun, so we took over taking care of the kids for them," Katy Kittle said. "We decided to drive up for the day to see Thomas and we'll drive back tonight.
"Dayton (2) is a really big Thomas fan," Kittle said. "Gavin (5) is kind of phasing out Thomas as he gets older. He has been a big Thomas fan. They have lots of trains and Thomas stuff. They loved the train ride today."
Another family that visited Thomas Friday was the Hinds, from Jasper, Mo. It was their first visit to see the train. Julie Hinds brought her son Hunter, 5, and daughter Taylor, 2, to see Thomas.
"Thomas brought us here today, because he is a big Thomas fan and she is getting into it because of him," Hinds said. "Every since he turned two, he's been a big fan. I think the first words out of his mouth were Thomas."
Both Hinds children played with the toy trains Friday, but Julie said Hunter was enjoying them the most. She also said he has several of those at home.
"He has a lot of setups like this and a lot of trains," Hinds said. "He has wooden ones and electric ones."
Some new items this year include a new magician, a petting zoo, LEGO blocks and new merchandise designed more toward the event. Other activities include meeting Sir Topham Hatt, storytelling, magic shows, toy trains, temporary tattoos, straw maze, inflatable slide, inflatable bouncer and climbing in a fire engine.
For the first 30 families on Saturday and Sunday, the fathers get to ride with Thomas for free. The rest of the weekend, fathers get $4 off their ticket prices. These offers are only good for on-site purchases.
"We hope the kids come out with the fathers and enjoy a nice weekend here," De Mott said. "It's a nice event for local families, because it's close and cheaper than traveling somewhere. It's a good, fun family activity."
Clement agreed saying local families should take advantage of the opportunity.
"It's an activity that would be a good family experience," he said. "There are lots of activities for the kids and there are places to sit and rest or eat and drink. It's a good family activity."
Also new for this year, Thomas the Tank Engine is trying to get inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame. Kids will be able to sign a petition to help Thomas take his place among other classic toys.
Tickets are $18 for ages 2 and up, but Friday tickets can be purchased for $15 if the promotion code, found at www.midland-ry.org, is used. Trains depart every 45 minutes each day.
The tickets for the 25-minute ride with Thomas can still be purchased. They can be purchased by calling 866-468-7630 or online at www.ticketweb.com or www.midland-ry.org.