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Maiden run set for train
ST. MARYS -- A date has been set for family-oriented train excursion to begin in St. Marys.

Organizers say the first rides will begin Oct. 12 to coincide with annual Railroad Days and Build a Scarecrow events in St. Marys. The hour-long rides will include actors who will play roles designed to entertain passengers.

Barbara Ryan, chairwoman of St. Marys Little Theatre and producer of several original productions at the venue, will write the scripts for actors involved in the train excursion.

"The train excursion is a compelling reason for more people to get off I-95 and drive into St. Marys," Ryan said. "The Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum Excursion, after which our train events will be patterned, has experienced huge successes, increasing the tourism business for Calera, Ala., significantly. We look forward to similar successes."

The theme for the grand opening will be "The Great Pumpkin Ride," which Ryan says will coincide with the popular St. Marys Hay Days celebration, in which hundreds of scarecrows are erected throughout St. Marys.

Ryan says she is currently writing the script and 10 to 14 actors will begin rehearsing their roles in August.

The actors and themes of the trip will change throughout the year to coincide with different holidays, such as The Polar Express at Christmas. An Old West train robbery is also in the works.

Doug Vaught, chairman of the Coastal Georgia Film Alliance who has been in Calera, Ala., to visit The Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum Excursion, says passengers will be allowed to disembark from the train during some excursions when the engine disconnects from the cars to turn around for the return trip to St. Marys.

During the first excursion, Vaught says passengers will be able to walk through a pumpkin patch, where actors dressed as scarecrows will entertain.

Ryan says the train excursions will run on weekends but the schedule will be expanded as visitation increases. Admission charges are still being worked out, Ryan said.

"We're confident the train ride will be bringing people to St. Marys that may never have visited here before," she said.

"There's nothing like our train excursion anywhere in our region. People of all ages are going to enjoy the experience, not just for the thrill of riding on a train, but also the high entertainment value that comes with each outing."

* Reporter Gordon Jackson writes about Camden County and other local topics. Contact him at gjackson@thebrunswick, on Facebook or at 464-7655.

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