Athletic-Related Announcement Tied to Train

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Union Pacific Mini-Train will be at the Haymarket Saturday, 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

By Randy York

If you’re looking for something different before Saturday’s 2 p.m. experimental Offense vs. Defense Red-White Spring Game at Memorial Stadium, check out the Union Pacific Mini-Train above. Envision that miniature locomotive with several cars behind it that can carry adults and children like the train at Lincoln’s Children’s Zoo. The only difference is this train has rubber wheels instead of adhesion traction, so it can carry passengers round-and-round in the parking lot at Haymarket Park on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The train will offer free rides for fans of all ages and will be located just west of the main gate to Hawks Field.

Built in Union Pacific’s Omaha locomotive and rail car repair shops 58 years ago, the mini-train is sometimes called the Pride of the Omaha Shops. For more than half a century, the miniature train has been a big hit in parades, family days and other civic events. This weekend, the mini-train will make a stop in Lincoln that is every bit as important as the 50-some appearances it makes every year. The mini-train is so popular, it is booked up to three years in advance for special civic celebrations.

Union Pacific Announcement Scheduled Saturday

There is a strategic if not semi-compelling reason why the mini-train will be part of Nebraska’s pre-game Spring Game atmosphere. Union Pacific, in fact, will be tied to a Nebraska Athletics-related announcement on Saturday. Nebraska Public Address Announcer Patrick Combs will share the news during the first half of Saturday’s Spring Game experiment that will be telecast nationally on tape-delay at 7 p.m. Saturday on the Big Ten Network. A statewide telecast is also set for NET at 2 p.m. Sunday.

I apologize for using a train to tease a football story, but as the son of a longtime railroader, trains always have intrigued me. They’re so fascinating that Walt Disney once thought about creating a character while riding coast-to-coast on a train with his brother. Both were struggling and thinking disaster was right around the corner. Then Walt pulled out his drawing pad and created Mickey Mouse on the train. Pure genius. Down went up and suddenly, it was fun times, great conversations, and memorable folklore.

In the past, Nebraska Spring Games were about seeing which players would plow new ground in the fall. For this agricultural state, the Spring Game was a sneak peak to see what kind of crops we might harvest when September turns into October. A mini-train is one of Union Pacific Railroad’s most popular goodwill ambassadors, and I’m sure everyone will be listening intently Saturday when Combs gives people inside Memorial Stadium the insight scoop. Stay tuned.

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