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Sat, Dec. 14

Thomas rolls into town Friday

More than 11,000 tickets

sold for six-day event

This weekend and the next, Williams will become a Thomas the Tank Engine train station. Fans from all over the Southwest will arrive in town to experience Day Out With Thomas™ tour and activities.

“We have over 11,000 tickets sold,” said Jerry Thull, public relations manager for Grand Canyon Railway. “We can sell up to 24,000.”

The railway will host two three-day events in May starting this Friday, Saturday and Sunday and continuing on May 17, 18 and 19. A fully-operational replica of Thomas the Tank Engine will run a short excursion seven times a day at 10:15 a.m., 11 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:15 p.m., 2 p.m. and 2:45 p.m. from the GCR’s Depot, 233 Grand Canyon Blvd.

“We’re pretty excited about this,” Thull said. “This could be another annual event just like the Polar Express. We’re crossing our fingers.”

Passengers will board GCR’s vintage Pullman cars for 25-minute ride with Thomas. The train ride is only part of the fun. The events will also include local entertainment, food and hands-on activities such as games, interactive train exhibits, book readings and screenings of Thomas & Friends™ videos.

“Some of the neat things, especially geared for kids, include the temporary tattoo station,” said Thull. “That will be in the caboose. The kids will interact with the train equipment, and there will be a story time and videos set up in a coach car.”

Fair-like events will take place 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on the grounds of the GCR Depot. (A map of the activity areas is pictured on this page under the story on street closures)

Operation Life Saver, which teaches safety around trains, is another site kids and adults can enjoy.

Thomas the Tank Engine will turn 55 years old this year. The story originated in England in 1945 when the Rev. Wilbert Awdry wrote the first of the now famous railway stories.

After 26 books, Awdry put down his pen and his son, Christopher, took up the job. He wrote an additional 40 books.

The book series was made even more popular when Britt Allcroft, a British producer, created the television show, “Thomas The Tank Engine and Friends.”

GCR’s event is the first-ever Day Out With Thomas™ in Arizona and the only one scheduled in the state this year.

Another big draw for GCR will be the opportunity to purchase collectible Thomas toys.

“Williams will have the most diverse selection of Thomas merchandise available,” Thull said.

Thomas the Tank Engine will not enter Grand Canyon National Park nor will it change normal operation of Grand Canyon Railway’s daily train to the Canyon.

“The whole campus of the Grand Canyon Railway, from the hotel to the cowboy show, is going to be filled with activities for kids,” said Thull.

Tickets to Day Out With Thomas™ are $14 per person and reservations are strongly recommended. Children under age 1 are free. Call 1-800-THE-TRAIN for more information.

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