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Story by Hal Goodtree. Photos by Brooke Meyer and Hal Goodtree.
Cary, NC – National Train Day rolled into Cary on Saturday. The weather was perfect, the band played, flags snapped to attention and the enthusiastic crowd cheered as the big train pulled into Cary.
Cary has had a train depot since Frank Page got a railroad siding in 1854. But this year was the first celebration of National Train Day in Cary. Previously, the event had been in Raleigh, a suburb of our fair town.
The Town Band filled the air with railroading songs and Americana as spectators streamed into the train depot. It was a mass influx of parents and kids, strollers and bicycles, grandmas and grandpas, elected officials and Amtrak representatives flooding in from all sides.
The enthusiastic crowd packed the platform from one end to the other. Children sat on the shoulders of their parents, blowing wooden train whistles supplied by the NC Railroad. As the Carolinian rolled into the station, a big cheer went up from the crowd.
I don’t know what kind of reception they had previously received in Raleigh, but the train conductors seemed surprised – even shocked – by the size of the crowd in Cary. At it’s peak, Train Day in Cary appeared to have drawn upwards of a thousand people.
The crowd eyed the gleaming railcars, heaving and shuddering above the platform, a living leviathan of steel and ingenuity. Slowly, the train departed from the platform and the crowd let out a collective sigh of appreciation.
Afterward, elected officials, community leaders and Amtrak representatives made a few remarks under the cloudless sky, a perfect Carolina blue to match the mood of the day.
Inside the station, games, amusements and information did a brisk business. There was a model railroad and a train table, face painting and balloon bending. A new Downtown Cary brochure produced by the Heart of Cary Association found its way into many hands.
As the morning stretched into midday, spectators wandered off to visit Page-Walker or strolled to Ashworth Drugs for a hot dog at the lunch counter.
Photos by Brooke Meyer and Hal Goodtree.