Editor’s Note: Publisher John Derby will be traveling abroad for the next few weeks on a trip in search of more information about his family roots. He hopes to send back stories of his adventure. The following editorial was sent in prior to his trip.
The Kiddieland Train is not just a train. It has been a package of joy and wonderful memories for countless local boys and girls.
Some years back, CalOSHA came to Kiddieland for the first time in its history and shut the amusement park down at the height of the summer season. A full inspection and approval of operations was deemed necessary because ride safety features and guidelines had not been updated according to state requirements.
What followed was a public outcry that could be heard all over the county.
Our newspaper answered the call for help and ran full-page advertisements asking our readers to step forward and raise the money necessary and also train the volunteers necessary to restart the train.
Now, we find it necessary to ask the community to step forward again. This time, the Kiwanis and Kiddieland are in need of a new train and an updated track. The old engine needs constant maintenance and the old tracks are too worn and no longer provide a safe route around the park. A decision has been made to purchase a modern electric train with wheels that will run on a paved route. It’s a solid plan for the future of the park.
While the Kiddieland Train was the brainchild of the Merced Kiwanis Club, it is not really just a Kiwanis train, it is a community train. To see this project project through to fruition, it will take the support of all the clubs in the community.
If we were to ask everyone one who has ridden on this train in the past to stand side by side, the line would stretch half way across the county. Many are not here to speak out for what this train meant to them as kids.
One thing about this community is it is known for its generosity, and already we have some major donors like MERCO Credit Union which has offered $10,000 a year for a decade to support Kiddieland.
Our newspaper will be celebrating its 60th year in business with a special dinner at the Italo-American Lodge on Thursday, Nov. 2, and the proceeds of the dinner will be going to help pay for the Kiddieland Train.
As part of the dinner, there will be an auction, and we hope to get people to bid for many items which will be added to the purse. It is the least we can do.
Maybe there are clubs in the community which would consider adding the Kiddieland Train project to their list of projects they support.
Of course, there are many other very worthy projects in the community, and we hope people don’t think that we would rather take money from them to give to the Kiddieland Train project. Funding a new train and tracks is a once-in-a-lifetime project, and the new train should last for a half century or more.
The Kiddieland Train project will not end when the new train and tracks are installed. It takes many volunteers to work at Kiddieland. There are just not enough volunteers to go around.
In conclusion, we are not saying the Kiddieland Train should overshadow all the other projects in town.
We are just asking the community to put it on the Wish List of projects which make our community special. Many of us have children and grandchildren who one day will ride the train.
Those memories will be the treasure of a lifetime.