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The Story of Our Friendship Train!
In the Heartland of Western Nebraska, a Grandfather built his grandchildren a little train. He was a retired machinist and his skills accomplished something never seen before. A small train that was made of 4 separate cars with one being the engine propelled by a riding lawn mower! Cleverly disguised as a train, complete with a smoke stack and caboose!
Through the years this little train was in many parades and carried numerous children on many memorable rides! As life continues soon the little train was no longer wanted or needed. It began a journey that would eventually lead it to us!
While answering an ad for a used cotton candy machine we could use at our events I had to decline buying it. There seemed to be some wiring problems and I knew enough about wiring to be electrocuted so that was out.
Then fate stepped in. I was almost safely in my van ready to leave without the used cotton candy machine when I was told by this amusement company in their storage building they had a children’s train. Would I be interested? They had purchased to rent out at events. Because of the expense of transporting it, finding staff to drive it and maintain it they did nothing with it except store it. I thanked them and said no, we were not interested because of the track needed for it, the expense of transporting it and we had no use for it.
After they explained it ran without tracks, even looked like a small train, had rubber tires, extremely well built and carried children in parades in Western Nebraska. Intrigued I said I would just ‘look’ at it, absolute worst thing for me to say much less do.
In this storage shed covered with a pigeon feathered, poop covered tarp was this train on a trailer that looked like it would have brought panic to anybody trying to pull it. As the tarp was pulled back as they say stars filled my eyes, a smile came instantly, and a vison of what this little train could be overwhelmed me. I asked them to hold it to see if I could get a loan for it. Where would I store it? In my garage of course, who would pull the trailer? No idea but I knew I had to have this little train. Did it make any sense whatsoever? Absolutely not. I was ready to drive it to my house I was so excited!
The next day after securing a loan I bought this little train and they delivered it to my house. Now being born and raised in Omaha, NE I was well aware of ice, snow, hail, tornados, etc. I scraped many ice covered windows, prayed no hail would hit my van, no tornado would see my van fly off to OZ all while the little train was safely stored in my double car garage! At the next Board meeting, always held at International Headquarters which has always been my home I introduced this little train and said I was donating it to Paws For Friendship Incorporated! I believe several thought I had ‘gone round the bend’ finally with no hope of returning. Needless to say they couldn’t see what I did and was not enthused about this little train.
Because of two of the dearest people in the whole world, who were Members and saw the potential that I did this little train began its new journey! Soon the artist, Marcy, with her husband holding the paint cans as she needed them, animation was added to each car! Soon this little train transformed into something kids, of all ages, dream of riding in! The pictures will speak for themselves, it is adorable.
We had a fundraising event scheduled for the Fall and we decided to introduce our Friendship Train there! It was parked away from the event area and driven up to where everyone was gathered. With a bell attached to the engine and an eager engineer to introduce it this little train chugged its way into the crowd. Children began lining up quickly and their parents were amazed at how well made it was. We have been told it was ‘over built’
I would hope the Grandfather that made this so many years ago for his grandchildren would be pleased. Our Friendship Train has carried more children on rides at our events, brought many smiles to those who had never seen anything like this before. We customized the 2nd car behind the engine. We had it redesigned so a child in a wheel chair can even ride our little train. The Friendship Train is stored in a beautiful trailer keeping it safe and ready for its next event! Thanks to a grant we were able to buy the trailer for it. The Friendship Train will carry many children in it long after I’m gone. It is a once in a lifetime find and I was lucky enough to be there.
We hope you are able to attend one of our events to see it, we think you will enjoy watching it go filled with children and many smiles! The Friendship Train has miles to go and many memories to leave!
2018 Children's Gasparilla Tampa FL
This page contains pictures of our well known "Friendship Train." We try to take this
train to any event that has the room that will accommodate it. One of the cars has been specially built so it can serve those children that are in a wheelchair. It is a hit wherever
it goes. ENJOY!