The cheerful music surrounding the carousel seems like an easy choice. Childhood fun brought to life for all, whether they’re under the age of five, or above the age of fifty.
Brianna Estrada said the festival ride that makes her feel like a kid again is the train. She’s the assistant to John Burgess, who is the real conductor of the trips around the park. He sometimes lets her toot the horn when she drives, which is what every kid not so secretly wants to do.
Estrada said it’s this kid-friendly energy Burgess brings to the train that keeps the locomotive going. “Everyone loves him,” Estrada said. “Most of the kids know him by name. He’s not just a conductor to them. He’s just John, the guy who works at the train.”
Burgess doesn’t take his title lightly, either. “If I can make one person smile, it’s worth it,” Burgess said. “These kids, they’re what makes this train so important.”
He knew a long time ago he’d be running the train. Burgess and his wife had recently moved into the neighborhood when they were awoken by a noise.
“We woke up one Sunday morning and she said, 'Honey what is that noise?' I said, 'It’s the train whistling. Get used to it. I’m gonna drive it one day.' She said, 'Yeah I know you are,'" Burgess said, recounting the memory.
That day was about nine years ago, and Burgess said while it can be tiring, he’s enjoyed it every day since.
He delights the fairgoers with two laps around the track, giving them plenty of opportunity to scream through a tunnel, which Burgess encourages. “Alright guys,” he’ll call out over the speaker. “Fill your lungs up, we’re going through the tunnel!”
Screams of laughter and amusement come from the families riding the train, and it’s what sets Burgess apart from the other ride operators. “I’ll be at the mall or the grocery store, and kids will come running up to me,” Burgess said. “And their parents will say, 'Who is this man?' They say, 'He’s the train man!'”
The train not only runs during the Carousel Festival, but also during other seasonal events. No matter what time of year they ride, Burgess says, “They don’t forget riding the train.”