Or have you forgotten? May 11th is National Train Day! And don’t worry if you haven’t prepared, I’ve got you covered. (For Mother’s Day too, though we all know that’s a pale second to National Train Day.)
Around here, we love all things big, mechanical, and that run on rails. It’s Brooklyn, and we’ve got a major hub of the New York City Subway and Long Island Rail Road just a few blocks down from our brownstone. Maybe because of that, my son Felix loves trains. Or maybe he just inherited that gene so many kids (boys, it seems especially, but not exclusively) are born with — an innate awe of these thundering machines, so much bigger than he, that swallow him up and carry him cross country, usually to do something fun or see someone he loves.
My wife is fortunate enough to bike to work, and sometimes, on those rare days she has to venture further afield, she’ll return home grumbling about the subway. It’s New York, griping about public transportation is a citywide hobby. But Felix won’t hear of it. “Where’d you go? Uptown or downtown?” he wants to know. He doesn’t care about how crowded or hot or slow the ride was. “What train did you take? Did you transfer?”
While my wife waxes on about one day owning a car, Felix entertains none of it. “When will we take Metro North again?” he asks at least one morning a week. “Or New Jersey Transit?”
There’s something luxurious and magical about being on a train. You’re surrounded by it, but have room to move and walk about, a smidgen of personal space. Snacks might be served, or eaten if you brought them along. The world seems to pass at a comfortable distance, almost like you’re watching a movie, maybe because the ride is so smooth. My son loves looking out the window, and I do too. Interesting thoughts flit through my mind as the landscape zips along before me. It’s a great place to get some thinking done; in between places, neither here nor there, but in a place, the journey literally is a destination you’re on the train, but going somewhere.
Around the house we have toy trains and tracks of all sorts, but on Saturday morning we’ll be celebrating National Train Day at the crown jewel of stations: Grand Central Terminal. There will be a scavenger hunt in the Main Concourse, with clues that relate to the history of the beautiful century old building. In Vanderbilt Hall, educators will be on hand to run activities with the kids, there will be a Chuggington train display — just thinking about it gets the theme song running through my head — and also demonstrations by a master builder from LEGOLAND! I’m more excited about that last item than my son is, really.
He’s pumped for the Parade of Trains, a bunch of vintage train cars parked on tracks 34 to 37, including a special luxury train. So grab your conductor’s hat and jump on the subway! Or, if you’re not near New York City, visit the National Train Day website or check out Amtrak’s blog to find out what’s happening near you.
(I couldn’t resist.)
Details: Events take place at Grand Central Terminal, Saturday and Sunday, May 11 and 12, 10am-4pm. For more information click here.
Please note: No backpacks will be permitted in event spaces during the Parade of Trains, including Vanderbilt Hall and on the platforms serving Tracks 34 to 37. There will be no bag check available so those carrying backpacks will not be able to view or participate in the event.