Thomas the Tank Engine delights fans in North Conway
Thomas the Tank Engine holds his cheerful smile as families pose with the popular blue engine at the Day Out with Thomas, held during the weekend and next weekend at the Conway Scenic Railroad. (SARA YOUNG-KNOX PHOTO)
“Awesome,” was the word Matt Wood of Hillsboro used Saturday to describe the “Day Out with Thomas Mystery On the Rails Tour 2012,” after he and his family spent the better part of a day at the event.
The beloved animated characters and their stories have entertained generations of boys and girls.
Wood was in Schouler Park for the event with his family, which included 8-month-old son Ian, son TJ, almost 4, and TJ's mother, Jaime Wood.
Matt Wood said his older son enjoyed exploring the Conway Scenic Railway's locomotive, and that TJ really liked the mist tent, too.
“It's our first time here,” Wood said, “and we'll definitely come back when his brother gets older.”
The annual family-friendly event mixed high excitement — like a bouncy house — with places for children to wind-down a bit.
During the event, which continues Friday, Saturday and Sunday, July 13, 14 and 15, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Thomas departs for a 25-minute round-trip ride every 45 minutes between 9:15 a.m. and 3:15 p.m.
The ride is included in the $18 ticket price, though seats must be reserved.
There are shorter rides in the railyard on railway motorcars, with the drivers and cars supplied by the Cotton Valley Rail Trail Club of Wolfeboro. The club has been volunteering at the event for free for about seven years, according to club officer Dave Kotsonis.
“You can't get more of a reward than to see the grandparents', parents' and children's smiles,” Kotsonis said Saturday as he drove the motorcar from the roundhouse.
Food and beverages are for sale, too, and a spacious canopy with more than enough tables and chairs to accommodate hungry event-goers is set up.
In Imagination Station on Saturday, mothers and fathers held on to toddlers and babies as older children played with the trains on the railroad layouts set up on several tables. The large tent, set up and staffed by volunteers from the Mount Washington Valley Children's Museum, has plenty of chairs, so parents who don't have the energy level of a preschooler can sit and watch as their children play with the trains, get a Thomas tattoo, make an engineer's hat or watch the slow movement of a giant tortoise.
Four-year-old Zac Upham of Bedford and 5-year-old Matthew Frost of Portland, Maine, quietly drove their trains around on the same table and tracks, but the layout was large enough so that the two young engineers were able to run their trains without any collisions.
In the coolness of the Conway Scenic Railroad Freight House, families watched Thomas videos and listened to stories while at the other end of the building, a small audience watched as the North Conway Model Railroad Club's trains rolled through the club's layout.
Information and tickets are available at www.conwayscenic.com. Children under 2 years old may attend free.
Purchasing tickets in advance is recommended, due to the popularity of the event.
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