There was a time in my life when trains, specifically Thomas trains, were more than just a mode of transportation. They were members of our family. We told stories about them, built tracks and houses for them, watched the videos and sang the songs they contained (the first song Tommy knew by heart was a little ditty called “Down by the Docks” from a story about Cranky the Crane – I could only hope when he sang it in public that people didn’t think we actually hung out dockside).
So it was with great anticipation in 2004 that Matt and I brought Tommy to the Strasburg Raiload near Lancaster, Pennsylvania for Day Out With Thomas, a traveling event that gives children the chance to see a “real live” Thomas and to ride a train pulled by him. I’m not sure who was most thrilled when Thomas pulled into the station, steam blowing into the blue September sky.
Of course, once you’re on the train, you don’t see Thomas anymore. You do get to sit on velvet seats in a gorgeously restored car and ride for about ten minutes out into the middle of a corn field that (if you’re lucky) is being plowed by an Amish farmer and his pair of brown horses. The experience is probably fairly authentic to the stories except that Thomas doesn’t run into a ditch and requireor one of the other characters to rescue him.
Was it crowded the day we saw Thomas? I think it’s possible that every toddler from New Jersey,, and Pennsylvania may have been in attendance. But the Strasburg Railroad does a good job. They time the rides so you know when you’ll be getting on. And they offer activities other than the train ride; we were never bored or overwhelmed. There’s a minature to ride on, art and craft activities, and model trains to play with and watch. Oh, and you’ll have the opportunity to buy one or two piece of merchandise of course. Just try resisting. I double-dog dare ya.
Thomas is going to be back in Strasburg from June 12 to 20, 2010 (visit the Strasburg Railroad website for information about purchasing tickets).
Although Tommy is really too big for Thomas and Teddy really isn’t that interested in him, I bet if I suggested that we go to Day Out With Thomas they would jump at the opportunity and actually, so would I. Because there’s just something magical about trains. Today, for example, they’ve taken me on a ride through time back to when Tommy had chick-fuzz hair and chubby legs.