You know the Save The Train fundraising effort for Kiddieland is on the right track when a big railroad company makes a stop in Merced with a golden ticket — a check for $20,000.
That’s what happened this week. Union Pacific Railroad’s Sr. Director of Public Affairs Peggy Ygbuhay presented the Kiwanis Club with a community grant from the company. The Kiwanis operate Kiddieland, and they applied for the UP grant earlier this year after the old Kiddieland train was taken out of commission due to mechanical problems and safety issues. The plan is to purchase a new, clean-energy electric train, replace the old tracks with a paved route, and add ADA improvements to the amusement area located inside Applegate Park.
“This is the happiest time of my job, when I can actually present grant money, and bring smiles to the faces of our community members in which we operate,” Ygbuhay said after making the trip down from Roseville. “Reading the application for the new Kiddieland train, obviously that resonates with Union Pacific Railroad. We are very proud to be a part of this. We have a lot of proud employees who live and work in the community here. Thank you for lettings us play a part and donating a little bit of money to keep your train on the tracks.”
The executive added, “We want our presence to be known not just through the train horns as they go through the crossings. We do have a lot of employees who work here. You guys are important to us.”
Union Pacific operates in 23 states and about 7,300 communities west of the Mississippi. The City of Merced is actually on one of UP’s main north-south corridors through California. An excess of 40 trains go through town every 24 hours. Ygbuhay pointed out that one UP train takes about 300 trucks off Highway 99. The trains also move a lot of locally grown agricultural produce and grain.
Union Pacific Railroad is now an official sponsor of the new Kiddieland Train.