Once we made the turn onto Oakwood Boulevard and were in familiar territory, three-year-old Clifford started chanting in the softest whisper, “Thomas, Thomas, Thomas.”
This is no shocker: Small children are excitable. I’ve lived through my share of over-the-top preschool build up and was doing my best to minimize what I could. That turned out to be a good plan, because once the cat was out of the bag, it’s all five-year-old Lillian could talk about.
“Are you excited to see Thomas, Cliff? Will we see Sir Topham Hat? Will James and Percy be there?” I’m not sure, but I think I actually saw her foaming at the mouth.
Cliff, a man of few words, would reply to the verbal barrage with a simple question. “Ride Thomas?”
The much-loved Really Useful Engine visited Greenfield Village Saturday and Sunday and will be there again this weekend and next. May 5, 6, 12 and 13.
We started bright and early with the Railroaders’ Breakfast at Taste of History. We hadn’t attended this event before. It’s at 8 a.m. on the Saturdays that Thomas is in the village. Reservations are made though the call center at 313-982-6001.
Cliff gobbled up his pancakes and sausage like a champ, all the while bopping to the live music. After we finished our meal, he just couldn’t get enough of Sir Topham Hatt. Cliff stayed close by the character until it was time to pack up and head over to Smiths Creek Depot to board Thomas.
Little engineers were in abundance. I don’t think many of the girls and boys even noticed that it was only 37 degrees. The bench seats on the train may have been cold, but my heart sure was warmed watching my own children and others enjoying the special ride.
As we pulled into the station, the next group of eager passengers were ready to board.
Visitors can purchase souvenir photos with Thomas. (He’s very photogenic.)
In addition to a ride on the train, there are other fun activities during the Day Out With Thomas weekends at Greenfield Village. The temporary tattoos in the Imagination Station were a big hit in our house. We’ve been doing our best to preserve them – which has been no easy task with all the hand washing a three- and five-year-old need each day.
There was some good team work going on in the tent. The station offers opportunities for play such as building with Thomas the Tank Engine blocks and train tracks, coloring and stamping.
There was busy activity at all the stations in the tent, and it was a happy respite from the cold weather.
The Pavilion in the village was transformed into the fantasy Thomas gift shop featuring all kinds of Island of Sodor related treasures.
In the Workshop & Guild Beer Hall, Thomas and many of his friends seemed to feel right at home making trips around the historic Detroit train display.
There were other fun train- and travel-related things to do in the village. The atmosphere was festive and filled with toe-tapping live music. (I’m still singing I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.)
And although our primary purpose for our trip to the village on Saturday was to see Thomas, we made sure to visit Firestone Farm to check out some of the Spring field prep and to see if we could take a peek at some of the newly born lambs. Lambing season was still underway the day of our visit, since one ewe had yet to deliver her little wrinkly Merino bundle of joy. I’ve since learned that the lamb was born later in the day on Saturday.
As always, we learned something new about farming in the late 1800s.
The best thing about our Day Out With Thomas – already – is the memories made. Throughout the rest of the day and into the night, all Clifford kept talking about was that he danced with “Topham Hatt” and sat for a ride on Thomas. He and Lillian proudly showed their tattoo’d hands to their schoolmates on Monday, and they can’t get enough of reviewing our photos from the day.
A Day Out With Thomas at Greenfield Village continues this weekend and next: May 5, 6, 12 and 13. Advanced tickets are recommended since the departures are timed. Tickets can be purchased online or through the call center at 313-982-6001.
A Day Out With Thomas is a family event and fun for children of all ages. Admission to the village is required, in addition to a ticket to ride the train. (See ticket prices here.) Admission to Greenfield Village is free for members of The Henry Ford, and tickets to ride Thomas are $11.75 each. The train ride is non-stop and lasts about 20-minutes. Parents will want to know that there’s a restroom located very close to the Smiths Creek Depot and plenty of room for parking strollers and wagons near the depot.
Kristine Hass is a long-time member and frequent blogger for The Henry Ford.