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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Thomas the Tank Engine chugs into St. Thomas, Ontario

   One-Tank Trip for July 12/14

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Clear the track, here comes Thomas the Tank Engine.
   The star of the children’s animated television series comes to life, chugging along the tracks in St. Thomas this month.
   Day Out with Thomas: The Thrill of the Ride Tour happens the weekends of July 18 to 20 and July 25 to 27 at the St. Thomas-Elgin Memorial Centre (80 Wilson Ave.).
  Wherever he goes, Thomas the Tank Engine attracts a crowd.
   For the first time, Thomas will “talk to his fans” as he pulls into the station.
   Children can hop aboard for a 25-minute ride and meet railway controller Sir Topham Hatt.
   There is also Thomas and Friends’ themed entertainment, story-telling, arts and crafts, inflatable bouncers, bubbles, a cool mist tent, hay bale maze and small animal petting farm.

   Admission to the Elgin County Railway Museum (225 Wellington St.), which is hosting the event, is included in the ticket price, said manager Dawn Miskelly.
   The visit by Thomas “offers aspiring engineers and their families the unique opportunity to take a ride with the classic storybook engine at regional heritage railroads,” organizers say.
   Thomas, the “Really Useful Engine,” has travelled from the fictional island of Sodor to arrive “right on time” as they say.
   The Thomas & Friends TV show was launched in 1984 in England based on the Railway Series books by the Rev. Wilbert Awdry and his son Christopher.
   The books deal with the adventures of a group of locomotives and road vehicles with human features.
   Over the years, the series in the United Kingdom and the U.S. has had a list of notable narrators starting with Ringo Starr and including, in order, Michael Angelis, George Carlin, Alec Baldwin, Michael Brandon, Pierce Brosnan and Mark Moraghan.
Thomas the Tank Engine will huff and puff into St. Thomas this month. (Mark Girdauskas photo)
   Also in St. Thomas is a Conductor’s Breakfast with Sir Topham Hatt on July 19 and 26 at 8 a.m. and 9 a.m.
   The $10 price (ages two and older) includes a hot breakfast and drink, viewing the museum exhibits, story-telling and meeting Hatt.
   This takes place at the museum, about a five-minute drive from where the train trips take place.

   Need to know
   Tickets to ride are $25 plus tax (free for ages two and younger), with a limited number of day passes for unlimited rides each Friday for $50 plus tax. There are discounted $20 tickets for the early and late trains on Fridays.
   All aboard: The Thomas train departs every 45 minutes starting at 8:45 a.m., with the last train leaving at 5 p.m.
   Guests should arrive at least one hour before their scheduled departure time and there is assigned seating on the train.
   Free parking is available adjacent to the site and the event runs rain or shine, with food and drinks available. Buying tickets in advance is “highly recommended.”
   Details and tickets: ecrm5700.org; 1-888-222-6608
   Staying over: The Four Points by Sheraton hotel in London has a Day Out with Thomas package from $143 a night.
   It includes overnight accommodations in a two-room suite, a Thomas storybook, free meals for children 12 and younger with adult meals and unlimited use of the indoor swimming pool.
   Book online at fourpointslondonontario.com/thomas-the-tank-engine-st-thomas or call 1-866-716-8133 and add Thomas tickets.
   For St. Thomas accommodations and information: railwaycitytourism.com

   Railway City rocks
   The Iron Horse Festival in St. Thomas from Aug. 21 to 24 is making a comeback in style.
   For its 20th annual year, the festival has moved to a site adjacent to the Elgin County Railway Museum instead of Talbot Street.
   A special visitor will be the Port Stanley Terminal Rail train offering “classic” rides and there is also a new midway with rides and games.
   Kicking off the fun is a performance by April Wine and the festival features two stages for live music, a rib fest, cruise night, Kid’s Junction, Vendors and Artisan Village and a battle re-enactment camp for history buffs.
   Admission is free, with April Wine tickets costing $22. The “Festival Boarding Pass” for $30 includes a ticket to all the shows and a discount coupon book. ironhorsefestival.com; (519) 207-4000


Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com
For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca

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