Patty Williamson admits that she’s not a morning person.
On Friday, though, the Bellevue woman got up 1 1⁄2 hours earlier than normal to bring her 5-year-old son Kalob to Fremont for A Day Out With Thomas.
And the reason Williamson was willing to sacrifice her sleep?
"The pure joy in his eyes. … There was no mistaking that happiness," Williamson said.
Williamson, Kalob and Kalob’s cousins were among the first group of passengers on the train Friday morning.
They planned to spend several more hours in Fremont taking advantage of the other activities at Ronin Park, including face painting, inflatables and - of course - a gift shop.
Cindy Christiansen of Omaha was glad there were other activities to occupy her sons, 4-year-old Zachary and 2-year-old Nicholas, as they waited to board the train.
"I don’t think I could keep them busy for the hour we have to wait," Christiansen said.
While Thomas the Tank Engine was the obvious draw, Christiansen said her sons are simply train fanatics.
"They’re train nuts," she said. "They love Thomas, but they’re not as crazy about it as some of these other kids, but they love trains."
Jessica Semler of Friend made the trek to Fremont with her 3-year-old son Mason.
They found out about the train ride from a Thomas-themed magazine.
Mason was eager to get the chance to ride on the train.
"He’s been talking about it all week," Semler said.
Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce president Allan Hale said A Day Out With Thomas is an exciting event for the community.
"It’s a national event and something we’re not going to see a lot," Hale said. "From that part of it, it’s a great deal for the community to have."
Hale said there were nearly 200 volunteers at the event, which led to a few minor glitches early Friday morning. But he expected everything to run smoothly the rest of the day and through the weekend.
"It’s funny, though, because those little kids, they don’t care," Hale said. "They see the train and that solves all the problems."
A Day Out With Thomas runs through Sunday and returns next weekend.