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Thomas draws crowd to Hagerstown Railroad Museum

July 10, 2010|By MARIE GILBERT
  • Chloe Thiede, 2, sits on a Thomas the Tank Engine locomotive Saturday as the Hagerstown Railroad Museum at City Park hosted Thomas the Tank Engine Day. Chloe, of Columbus, Ohio, visited the park with her grandmother, Carolynn Fahnestock of Charles Town, W.Va.
By Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN -- With books, movies, toys and clothes all bearing his name, he's the engine that could -- and has -- become a worldwide celebrity.

He's the unstoppable phenom known as Thomas the Tank Engine, whose popularity, even after six decades, continues to gain steam.

This year marks the 65th birthday of the blue locomotive from the fictional island of Sodor.

And on Saturday, a special party was held in his honor when the Hagerstown Railroad Museum at City Park hosted Thomas the Tank Engine Day.

"Kids love Thomas," said Bob Tracey, a local train enthusiast who works at the museum. "We thought this would be a fun, family event."

Tracey said the museum had planned on holding a Thomas day last year, "but it didn't come together. So many people were disappointed, we really wanted to try again this year."

The event included rides on a Thomas the Tank Engine replica, a garden railway featuring miniature Thomas trains, arts and crafts, and a scavenger hunt.

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Visitors also were invited to tour the cab of the 1912 Western Maryland Locomotive 202, explore two newly painted cabooses and view the collection of Western Maryland memorabilia housed at the museum.

Tracey said train-themed prizes were raffled throughout the day.

Ted Snyder of Falling Waters, W.Va., said his son, Matthew, 3, is a big Thomas fan and inherited Thomas train sets from his older brother, Nathan, 8.

"There are some kids' toys that you toss out," he said. "Then, there's stuff that you keep forever. That's how we feel about Thomas toys."

Snyder said the family found out about Saturday's event more than a month ago and put it on their calendar.

"We knew where we wanted to be on July 10th," he said.

Snyder said he also appreciated the fact that the event was free.

"When you think about the cost of entertainment for children, it can get expensive," he said. "This was fun for the kids, relaxing for the parents and it didn't cost a cent."

Sharlyn Larew of Hagerstown said her son, Colton, 4, is a big fan of Thomas the Tank Engine and was excited about Saturday's event.

"He has all the videos, toys and Thomas clothes," she said. "We have a lot of Thomas in our house."

Larew said she thought her daughter, Alyssa, 6, might not be as thrilled as her brother about Thomas the Tank Engine Day.

"But she's just as excited," she said. "I think everyone is having fun."

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