The excitement of riding the train from Hope on Thursday was coupled with anticipation of future trips for several riders. The crowd was a mix of people from all walks of life Thursday morning and everyone was excited about the prospect of riding the inaugural train.
People from the Parks Department, the City of Hope, community leaders, banking officials, the Mayor of Hope, citizens of Hope, the Red Hat Ladies Society, a group from the University of Arkansas Community College at Hope, educators from the Hope Public Schools, the superintendent of the Hope Public Schools, and members of the Hope Police Department, including the chief of police, were among those riding the train.
The Hope Star caught up with several people who rode the train and got their reactions to the event.
“It was outstanding,” Dave Rose, superintendent of the City of Hope landfill, said. “Everybody that showed up was excited. It was something new and a great experience. It just adds a little bit of class to Hope, which is a great city already.”
“It was fun,” Mike Malek, retired UACCH professor said. “The Hollises and us went to California a couple of years ago on Amtrak so we have been on a very long train ride before. It was interesting to see how many people showed up. It was an historic event for the city of Hope. The convenience of Amtrak is going to be nice. You can take the train to Dallas or Fort Worth and be within walking distance to hotels, shopping, and museums. It will definitely be fun.”
“I thought the train ride was fantastic,” LuGene Erwin, executive secretary at the Hope Parks and Recreation Department said. “I haven't been on a train since I was little. My dad was working away from home and every Friday night we'd get on the train to visit him. I just wish the trip would have been a little longer. The ride was so smooth and not a bit bumpy. I will definitely do it again.”
“I like it immensely,” Mark Keith, executive director of the Hope/Hempstead County Chamber of Commerce said. “That was an historic day for Hope. Twenty years from now, we'll be telling the young ones about the trip and remembering the day that the train began stopping in Hope again.”
“I was extremely excited to be able to board the train,” Catherine Cook, city manager of Hope said. “It was a dream of our community and myself for Amtrak to stop in Hope. I'm just glad I could be part of it. It's been a lot of years of a lot of hard work and I'm glad it finally came to fruition.”
“I was extremely surprised to see that many people there at the depot,” Dennis Ramsey, mayor of Hope, said. “I had personally underestimated the crowd numbers and the crowd response. It was a great community day. I'd never been on an Amtrak train. I remember a train ride to Prescott and then a picnic at Fair Park when I was about 11 years old, but that's about it as far as riding a train. It was really exciting then and it still is today.”
Page 2 of 2 - Marc Magliari, media relations manager for Amtrak, was also aboard the inaugural train ride on Thursday.
“Thanks for covering us so well and for a great reception in the morning mist,” Magliari said in an e-mail to the Hope Star.
A need for correction in the story was noted by him. Instead of National Railroad Day, as reported in the Hope Star story, the celebration to which he referred denotes National Train Day.
“As of now, Hope is our featured station on the Amtrak-sponsored GreatAmericanStations.com website,” Magliari said. “The article can be accessed at: http://www.grateamericanstations.com/station-news/hope-ark.depot-opening and the Hope Profile can be seen at: http://www.grateamericanstations.com/Stations/HOP/Station view.