Family fun at Day Out with Thomas

Special event at Colorado Railroad Museum

Nina Joss
njoss@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 9/12/22

When Noah Silverman walked through the gate at the Colorado Railroad Museum on Sept. 11, he couldn’t believe his toddler eyes. Surrounded by trains, he exclaimed to his parents, “We really are in Sodor!”

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Family fun at Day Out with Thomas

Special event at Colorado Railroad Museum

Posted

When Noah Silverman walked through the gate at the Colorado Railroad Museum on Sept. 11, he couldn’t believe his toddler eyes. Surrounded by trains, he exclaimed to his parents, “We really are in Sodor!”

With engines visible in every direction, it was one train in particular that justified Noah's geographical conviction: Thomas the Tank Engine, the popular locomotive cartoon character from the fictional Island of Sodor, smiled at Silverman and other train-obsessed kids as they waited to board.

For three consecutive weekends in September, the Colorado Railroad Museum is hosting Day Out with Thomas, an event in which families can ride a life-sized Thomas the Tank Engine and participate in train-themed activities, according to the museum’s website.

“I liked it,” Noah said in regards to meeting Thomas, “I think it was ‘cause he’s my favorite engine.”

According to Rob Kramer, deputy director of the museum, Noah’s reaction was similar to that of many children at the event.

“When you come here, he’s real — he’s on the train track, he’s talking to you, his face is moving — and they just lose their minds,” Kramer said.

Day Out with Thomas is an international event, according to Kramer. The life-sized Thomas travels to locations around the world and speaks seven different languages, he said.

Trivia shows, games, train toys, a hay bale maze and a scavenger hunt keep families busy at the outdoor event, but the highlight of the day for most kids is getting to ride the train. The 20-minute ride around the property is led by Thomas and features an interactive story playing over the loudspeakers, according to the website.

Volunteer Justin Grauel and his mother Lorinda Grauel drove all the way from Missouri to help on the train ride, Lorinda said. Whereas most families plan vacations around holidays or weather, she said they plan trips around wherever they can see Thomas.

“This is his 20th year of doing this,” Lorinda said, gesturing to her son. “This is about our fifth location, I think.”

Justin has autism and is nonverbal, Lorinda said. He’s loved Thomas since he was two years old, and she said she has used the character to teach Justin everything throughout his life, even his multiplication tables.

Volunteering at Day Out with Thomas is a great learning experience for Justin and for kids who meet him, Lorinda said.

“It lets people kinda see autism in a different way,” she said. “He loves the kids, they’re always so awesome and… they’re learning about autism and he’s learning about how to be around people.”

While many might think a cartoon train engine would only excite kids, Lorinda and Justin show that loving Thomas is not exclusive to any age group.

“You just don’t outgrow Thomas,” Lorinda said. “Thomas is for everybody.”

Tickets for Day Out with Thomas at the Colorado Railroad Museum are sold out for 2022, but other locations including Texas, California and North Carolina are hosting the event in upcoming months.

family fun, trains, museum, Thomas the Tank Engine, outdoor

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