As a huge fan of trains, especially the kind you can ride, in North Carolina; Tweetsie is an institution for me. Tweetsie is a special place where families, friends and loved ones come together to enjoy good, clean fun full of nostalgia and adventure.
I can remember visiting the park as a child with my parents and grandparents. Some of my earliest memories of trains are of Tweetsie. I believe it was my grandfather who introduced me to the magic of steam engines and when I took to the trains with fervor, he was the one who nurtured it, embellished it and encouraged it. My parents supported it too and I have fond memories of my father taking me to the train depot in Greensboro as a very young child. So, naturally we visited Tweetsie as often as possible.
As a teenager there were many things that became less important to me. I believe most of us look back at those years and wonder what in the world were we thinking. My love of trains took a back seat to cars, friends and let’s face it…girls. I remember getting a call from my mother when I was a freshman at Appalachian State University. She was calling to ask what she should do with my model train collection. I had boxes and boxes of engines, cars, tracks, stations…it was quite a collection. Not knowing what I know now, I told her it was fine with me if she wanted to get rid of them. I get depressed just thinking about it.
Growing up is a strange thing. All of a sudden the things that meant so much to you as a child become important again. Tweetsie reminds us of these things and keeps those dreams alive.
When I got married and we started talking about having children I knew that it didn’t matter whether that first child was a boy or a girl. That child would have a train. So, needless to say, I had already purchased a fine HO model train set before my son was even born. This was in 2002. That boy had no choice but to love trains…and he still does.
I couldn’t wait for him to be old enough to enjoy Tweetsie. When he was almost 2 years old we took him there for the first time. The timing was perfect. As we walked through the gates and approached the tracks for the first time…he heard it…that whistle. My son had never seen a real train, much less the one and only Tweetsie. That big, green engine came around the bend puffing and chuffing with smoke billowing into the air. My son completely went nuts. He was laughing and screaming like crazy as old #12 pulled into the station and we were all so excited to hop on and ride. That first train ride for him was a magical experience. Surprisingly, the skits and Fort Boone, etc. didn’t seem to phase him. His interests lay with the train and particularly…that engine. We were able to take him on some of the other fun rides that day and we had such fun doing so. But, whenever he’d hear that whistle he was ready for another ride.
It was then that I realized what Tweetsie means to me…and probably millions of other people.
Tweetsie is about bringing families together and the nostalgia of remembering your dreams as a child while sharing the experience with your own children and grandchildren. Make no mistake; the train is the focal point of the experience. However, the park has so much more for families to enjoy. The people there have obviously gone to great lengths to make sure they have something for everyone. One of the things you will notice most about the people at Tweetsie is the friendliness. Every person operating a ride, everyone in the stores, all the folks sweeping up trash, the engineer, the people who take your tickets when you come into the park…every single person there is nice to you. That speaks volumes these days when it’s so hard to have a positive customer service experience. Tweetsie understands that it’s about families and friends and making sure it’s fun for everyone.
My son is eight years old now and I have a daughter who is four. My family has visited the park at least once or twice a year since that first visit and there no signs of that stopping. My son still marvels at Tweetsie and now cherishes his own model railroad collection. He refuses to ride the train without his cowboy hat, cap gun and holster and would love to hop off the train at Fort Boone and take a few shots at the bad guys. My four year old now wants her own model train and loves to ride Tweetsie with her pink cowgirl hat and vest. Both thoroughly enjoy the train ride, but also get very excited about the ferris wheel, car ride, airplanes, mouse train and everything else the park has to offer.
One of my goals in life is to make sure my son and daughter understand the importance of family and spending time together. Tweetsie is one those family experiences that illustrates that importance and provides us with the opportunity for good, clean fun…the old fashioned way. Hopefully my son will remember that throughout HIS teenage years and will pass it on to his family someday and that is why Tweetsie is an important institution in North Carolina.
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“Your park is so clean and everyone is so friendly. It's a real relief from the real world we live in daily. My son dresses up for the occasion and loves the cowboys. I don't know anywhere else you could park a stroller full of goods and go ride a train and it all be there when you return. Thanks again for all you do. It's worth the two hour ride to see his face!”
-Guest from King, NC