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7,000 rode the train with Thomas in Medina last weekend

Photos by Tom Rivers: Thomas the Train heads out of Medina for a train ride last Saturday, during the three-day event hosted by the Medina Railroad Museum.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 25 May 2019 at 8:13 am

MEDINA – Weekend with Thomas is all over but the shouting.

And it was something to shout about for the Medina Railroad Museum.

After a drop in attendance last year, the Medina Railroad Museum decided to scale down to one three-day visit this year, which proved to be very successful, said Museum director Janien Klotzbach.

This was the 15th year the storybook train, owned by Mattel/Fisher Price, has made tracks to Medina. Over the three-day visit May 17, 18 and 19, 7,000 people rode the train.

“It takes a lot of work and expense to put on an event like Thomas, and we had to condense our efforts,” Klotzbach said. “But it was extremely successful.”

Klotzbach also said the success assures them that Thomas will be returning next year, which is a special anniversary for Fisher Price.

With this year’s Day Out with Thomas came other changes, including not letting anyone on the grounds unless they had a ticket to ride the train. In other years, numerous events on the grounds were open to the public at no charge, but that was not cost effective to the Museum or Fisher Price, said a representative from Fisher Price.

The museum grounds had many inflatables, bounce houses and fun activities for children and families.

In addition to the usual storytelling, Imagination Station activities (face painting, temporary Thomas tattoos, Legos, coloring station, train play tables and bean bag toss), there was a caricature artist and very popular balloon artist and miniature train ride next to the Sodor maze. Also, there was entertainment, such as a musician and magician in the tent next to the Senior Center, and an additional bounce house.

It takes many volunteers to pull off an event like Thomas, and Klotzbach said they recruited volunteers from local non-profit groups, such as churches and Scout groups. The organizations will then be paid for the hours their volunteer worked at Thomas.

“Thomas has always been a very exciting experience, not only for the children, but for the museum and its staff,” Klotzbach said. “It’s so rewarding to see the children and their parents and grandparents when they get so excited about Thomas. There are still many adults who come without children, because they love the event.”

Klotzbach said the same is true of Polar Express, which annually sells out at Christmas time. While they are still wrapping up from Thomas’ visit, they are already planning future train events, including the annual fall foliage and wine trains and Santa train. A new event this year will be a Blues Festival Oct. 19, with a blues band, winery and brewery on the grounds and wine tasting on the train.

The Museum has also scheduled another Memorial Train to pay tribute to Klotzbach’s father and Museum founder Martin Phelps, who died two years ago. Funds from the ride on Oct. 12 will be donated to a veterans’ organization in his memory.

Tickets are already on sale for these events and information is available on the Museum’s website or by calling 798-6106.

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