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All aboard for Crews Lake Park Day

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Published:   |   Updated: May 7, 2013 at 05:46 PM
HUDSON -

Wooo-ooo-oooo! Clickety-clack, clickety-clack, clickety-clack. Clang, clang, clang.

Those sounds are music to the ears of scores of miniature railroad enthusiasts.

Central Pasco & Gulf Railroad members hope the public will make tracks to the first Crews Lake Park Appreciation Day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

The group will offer train rides as they play host to all sorts of free, family activities.

"The parks have been so good to us, it's time to give back to the parks," Bill Baker, a CP&GRR member and chairman of the new event, said during a phone interview.

County officials gave permission to the group to build some two miles of track through the woods about six years ago.

One goal of the event is to raise donations to install up to 10 recreational vehicle spaces with water and electric hookups, Baker said.

The fun on Saturday will include the release of 40,000 ladybugs, Baker said.

The Pasco County Sheriff's Office's Mounted Posse is scheduled to appear on horseback.

McGruff the Crime Dog will be on hand while fingerprinting will be done for children free of charge.

Vehicles and trains collide about every three minutes in the country, so Rex Nicholson will deliver an Operation Lifesaver safety presentation.

Music will be provided by DJ Rich, from Rock and Roll to Go. Queen Chasco and King Pithla will attend. Florida Native Plants will sell plants. Hot dogs, hamburgers and soft drinks will be available.

CP&GRR will honor Pasco County Commission Chairman Ann Hildebrand in a ceremony as an "Honorary Friend of the Railroad" for all her help and the aid of county officials and park staff.

Hildebrand had been among the first passengers on the miniature railroad during test runs in 2007.

Full-size trains roll down tracks more than 4.5 feet apart. The small-scale replicas are built for tracks spaced 7.5 inches apart, a scale large enough to permit riders.

Railroads disappeared from the West Pasco landscape more than four decades ago, but the nonprofit group is dedicated to preserving railroad heritage. A golden spike ceremony opened the CP&G railroad to the public on Dec. 29, 2007.

CP&GRR is based upon the Orange Belt Railway, which ran from Sanford to St. Petersburg through Pasco County starting in the 1880s. The major towns on the CP&GRR are named for stops/stations on its route.

Although the trains might be miniature, there's nothing small about the dedication of these railroad engineers. Baker said some 60 families are involved in CP&GRR. County officials and parks staff have lent their support to make it all possible.

The miniature railroad provides rides to the public the second Saturday of each month, Baker pointed out. Members deck out the trains with decorations at Halloween and Christmas special occasions. CP&GRR hosts other clubs from all over the country at national events in February and March.

CP&GRR members ask for a donation of $3 for train rides on Saturday. For information or sponsorships, call Baker at (727) 457-9010 or send an email to bakerbs@msn.com.

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