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Iron Horse Park set for return this month

Iron Horse Park is hoping Airdrie will choo-choose the local park for their entertainment on Sundays.

Iron Horse Park, operated by the Alberta Model Engineering Society (AMES), is preparing to kick off its 2022 season later this month, free from all COVID-19 restrictions for the first time in two years. 

However, the president of AMES, Ray Verdone, said if guests choose to wear a mask this season, the park will respect their comfort and supply those guests with their own train car to ensure they are still able to enjoy Iron Horse Park this season. 

In regards to other restrictions, the Midtown-based miniature train theme park has chosen not to implement the COVID-19 health protocols they had in the past. Last year, the park installed long bars between cars to help physically distance guests, but the bars led to derailments, according Verdone, so the park staff are choosing not to use them this year. 

However, should the Alberta government enforce COVID restrictions at any point throughout the summer, Verdone said Iron Horse Park “knows how to operate under the conditions” and is ready to implement restrictions if needed. 

Set to open during the long weekend on May 22, the park will operate every Sunday until Oct. 9, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Admission into Iron Horse Park is free for all guests, and families can enjoy a fun Sunday outing on the 11 acres of available space that has been landscaped with man-made mountains, bridges, and tunnels. 

The park also offers free use of picnic tables so parents can relax while their children romp around. 

“It’s always a surprise for first-time visitors – they have lower expectations and they really enjoy what they see,” Verdone said. 

Despite the free attractions Iron Horse Park has to offer, the main draw is the 2.5-kilometre train track that people can ride for $3. The ride lasts just under 15 minutes and is a big hit with younger kids.

The lack of admission fee and the low train ride costs means Iron Horse Park is accessible to all families. The park also offers a small gift store with low costs, ensuring that “a young child is able to walk away with something in their hand for $3 or $5 and they’re happy because they got something,” Verdone said. 

In the previous two years, the store was closed due to COVID-19, and Verdone said he is excited to have the store open again this season. Despite the low cost, the store's sales help generate revenue to help run the park. 

Since AMES, the operator of the park, is a non-profit organization, the proceeds from the train rides go toward the costs of running the Park. Although Iron Horse Park operates exclusively with volunteers, the cost of running the park is high, with insurance taking up a significant portion of the park’s income, Verdone said. 

“We basically break even every year,” he said. “Every month, all the money gained is essentially spent [on maintenance].”


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