His smiling face and shiny blue engine are loved by little ones everywhere. And this weekend, your train-crazy tot can have the chance to meet Thomas the Tank Engine in person at the Day Out with Thomas event at the Illinois Railway Museum.
Day Out with Thomas is a nationwide tour with whistle stops in 45 cities. The highlights of the Illinois visit include a ride on a real Thomas train and photo ops with the beloved controller of the railway, Sir Topham Hatt himself.
"Thomas has very high values (like) fair play, honesty," says IRW's marketing director Ed Rosengren. "He's someone to be looked up to. Kids really, really love Thomas. … It's good to see that."
Although Rosengren says the Thomas-oriented portion of the day primarily appeals to little conductors 8 and under, the event also includes train-related storytelling, videos, crafts, clowns, puppet shows and live music the whole family can enjoy.
Tickets to Day Out with Thomas also include admission to the Illinois Railway Museum, where families can ride other trains and street cars and view the museum's regular exhibits. Rosengren says many families stay for the whole day.
This is the 12th year for Day Out with Thomas to chug by the
museum, and Rosengren says the reaction has been extremely
positive. In fact, he sees kids who were once Thomas fans become
true railroad enthusiasts as they get older.
He says the chance for families to spend time together is something that shouldn't be missed.
"It's good, wholesome family entertainment," Rosengren says. "It's a good time to share something that your children watch on TV and watch it come into reality."
So if you feel like Thomas, Percy & Co. are already members of your family, a Day Out with Thomas might be the ideal choice for these dog days of summer.
Elizabeth Diffin is the associate editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Wheaton.
See more of Elizabeth's stories here.