Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

April 3, 2013

Ridge Runner slated to welcome season’s first riders Saturday


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — City parks and recreation employees are working to get the Ridge Runner back on track at Lotito Park for its first riders of the season Saturday.

Troy Godwin, director of parks and recreation, said the train will be open to riders for $1 admission beginning at noon this Saturday and Sunday.

“We are very excited about this weekend,” Godwin said. “Hopefully, the weather will be good so we will see people out playing basketball, having picnics, walking their pets and of course riding the Ridge Runner. A lot of people really love that train.”

Godwin said park employees have been preparing the train for its first run of the season all week long.

“It’s an older train and we have been doing a lot of maintenance work on it,” Godwin said. “We try to address any issues the train had last year so we can have minimal breakdowns this year. We want to protect our riders and make sure the train and track are safe. It’s a challenge for us sometimes, but it’s a fun challenge.”

The Ridge Runner is something that helps the park stand out, Godwin said.

“We are definitely unique in this region and in the country to have a mini-train of this size that runs through the entire park,” he said. “Everyone has fun on the train, so they love having it up and running. There is a lot of excitement when people see the train running. It allows people to just relax and enjoy the park. It’s fun not only for our residents but for visitors from all over.”

Godwin said the train is a major draw for both local residents and out-of-town visitors.

“It’s the most popular thing at the park,” Godwin said. “There is a lot of history to the train. For generations people have been bringing their children and grandchildren to ride this train. It’s a legacy at the park, and we want people to come and have fun.”

In addition to the Ridge Runner, Godwin said other activities are also in full swing at the park.

“The park opened to traffic on Monday, so we are really starting to get back into the swing of things,” Godwin said. “We have had to clean up the lighting displays from the Holiday of lights as well as some work on our restrooms and routine maintenance around the park. We have been picking up debris and cleaned up the shelters. It was a lot of work, but we are ready for our guests.”

The Ridge Runner will run from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday through September 30 at Lotito City Park in Bluefield.