Thomas on track for Williams<br>

Thomas the Tank Engine arrives in Williams last May. The children’s book character brought more than 16,000 visitors to the Williams area over two weekends. Organizers expect at least 4,000 people this weekend.

The story of Thomas the Tank Engine began 55 years ago in England when the Rev. Wilbert Awdry wrote the first of the now famous railway stories. After 26 books, Awdry stepped aside and his son, Christopher took over. He wrote an additional 40 books. The books are designed for children ages three through five, but appeal to all ages.

“They run into little pint-sized problems and they get resolved. It’s a great message for kids,” explained Jerry Thull, public relations manager for Grand Canyon Railway.

Live music, hands-on displays and characters from the book will be around, added Thull.

During Thomas’ visit, the 200 block of Grand Canyon Boulevard, in front of the train depot, will be closed to vehicles. The closure will be in effect from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Traffic will be re-routed west onto West Franklin Avenue, south onto North Seventh Street and east onto Route 66.

During the “Day Out With Thomas” event in Williams, families can take a 25-minute ride aboard Grand Canyon Railway’s vintage Pullman cars led by Thomas the Tank Engine. The trains will depart Williams Depot every 45 minutes between 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. The day will also include live entertainment and food as well as games, interactive train exhibits, book readings and screenings of “Thomas and Friends” videos.

“Day Out With Thomas” events also provide excellent opportunities for collectors to buy hard-to-find Thomas merchandise. The event in Williams will include one of the most diverse collections of Thomas merchandise available.

Thomas the Tank Engine will not enter Grand Canyon National Park nor will he change normal operation of Grand Canyon Railway’s daily train to the Grand Canyon. Tickets to “Day Out With Thomas” are $14 per person. Admission for children under one is free. For reservations, call 1-800-843-8724. For more information, go to www.thetrain.com

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