Wally Hebel has long cleared the “over the hill” moniker but the smiling senior sure felt like a kid while zipping through the park on his train.
“I just love trains and I love being apart of it,” he said. “We built virtually everything you see here.”
At five miles per hour, the Largo Central Railroad is rounding the corner into its second quarter century. The beloved train located at Largo Central Park will celebrate its 26th anniversary in October.
“It’s special. It’s a long time. It’s hard to put into words,” said Chip Sorensen, who now helps operate the trains he once rode as a child.
“This will be my eight years here. So, I look back and I go, man eight years have gone so quick and to see the railroad continue to grow and provide to the community and to be honest we love being here or we wouldn’t be doing it.”
The train runs the first full weekend of each month, weather permitting, and is free to ride. There is no age limit, which brings crowds from all over.
“You go through the tunnel, people have a great time,” said Ray Harms.
The lines can get long. The ride lasts about 12 minutes. Most riders say the train is worth the wait.
“I wouldn’t give it up for love or money, I’m telling you,” said Station Master John Beard.
The train has a club associated with it that helps maintain the attraction. The club operates off donations.
“The best thing that ever happened to Largo Central Park,” said Hebel with a smile.