It’s that time of year when everyone’s favorite anthropomorphic tank engine comes to town.
For the next two weekends, the Florida Railroad Museum in Parrish is hosting its annual “Day Out With Thomas.” Close to 20,000 people turn out to the museum every year for the event. The main attraction is Thomas the Tank Engine, who takes children and adults on a 25-minute ride that starts every hour.
Thomas is a jovial engine with a human face. He’s been around since books called “The Railway Series” debuted almost 75 years ago. He came to American television in the 1980s.
A full-sized Thomas tours the country. In Parrish, he gets hooked up to the museum’s train, which features vintage cars from the 1920s through the 1960s.
The rides, which circle out into the surrounding area and end back at the starting point, are the centerpiece of the day, but most visitors spend a few hours on the museums grounds. Kids can get their pictures taken with Thomas and Sir Topham Hatt, the head of the railway in both the books and the TV series. The museum grounds are turned into a family-oriented fair, with bounce houses, live music, storytelling, face painting, temporary tattoos and with craft activities.
It’s an extremely popular event, and the museum encourages people to get tickets in advance. Some of the rides are close to being sold out already.