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Thomas the Tank Engine tradition rolls on
As Thomas the Tank Engine's smiling gray face looked down, parents with cameras in hand cajoled and then captured smiles from little ones under a sunny sky Friday, July 10, at the Northwest Railway Museum.
The opening session of the Day Out With Thomas tour was in full swing. As families trundled forward for photos with the tank engine, parked in front of the 118-year-old Snoqualmie Depot, their young charges would often fail to stop at right place, reaching out to touch the famous TV character.
Photos were also snapped at the various booths, singing stage, in the museum locomotives, and everywhere else that the younger set was celebrating the rails.
"I like seeing the train through his eyes," said mom Beth Svancara, who brought her young son Ryan.
Even as the warm afternoon wore on at the busy depot, there were far more smiles than tears.
"He is behaving well," said mom Hillary Brickman of Sammamish. Her son Ryder turned three that day, and was visiting Thomas for his birthday.
"His siblings are at home, so that helped," Brickman said. "It's a special day."
She's been planning the trip since seeing a Thomas special on the octuplet TV show, "John and Kate Plus Eight."
After a photo, Ryder gazed at Thomas, then waved goodbye as they walked away.
"He loves Thomas," Brickman said.
The de la Fuente family of Monroe are regular Thomas followers.
"We do it every year, for seven years now," dad George said. "This is so much fun for the kids. We get pictures. It's a day with the family."
Son Kyle, 9, loves the character.
"He's funny and really awesome," he said.
At the helm inside Thomas the Tank Engine, museum volunteer Mark Wilkerson maintains the magic.
Two short, sharp raps on a handle produce the characteristic "peep-peep" sound that fans expects, and which resound through downtown Snoqualmie and North Bend during the Thomas run.
From time to time, Wilkerson activates the hissing smoke generator that sends a white plume up from Thomas' smokestack.
"I like the idea of helping the museum," he said. "The kids get such a fascination out of it.