Monday, June 20, 2011
Train stations celebrate opening of A-Train
NT Daily reporters were on the scene as the A-Train made its initial run.
To celebrate the opening of the Denton County Transportation Authority A-Train, five train stations in North Texas took part in the Rock and Rail Station Celebration Saturday. While each station had its own way of celebrating, festivities, free food and the chance to ride the A-Train for the first time were offered at each spot.
More than 1,000 people braved the heat Saturday at the Rock and Rail Station Celebration’s first stop in downtown Denton to celebrate the first running of the Denton County Transportation Authority A-Train.
Guests listened to Denton Mayor Mark Burroughs, Congressman Michael Burgess and DCTA Board of Directors Chairman Charles Emery speak before a ribbon-cutting celebration marked the train’s opening.
The music of UNT’s One O’Clock Lab Band blared as the A-Train pulled into the station minutes after the ribbon cutting.
Dee Leggett, the vice president of communications and planning for DCTA, said the number of VIPs riding the A-Train showed strong support from leaders in the government and community.
Texas Women’s University was the major sponsor of the downtown event, and businesses including Beth Marie’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream and the Sweetwater Grill and Tavern set up booths to provide refreshments.
The silver cars of the A-Train rolled up to Denton’s MedPark station off Brinker Road to host about 600 passengers ready to ride the latest addition to public transportation in the North Texas area.
Though not as bustling as the scene at the Downtown Denton Transit Center off Hickory Street, the people at MedPark learned about the A-Train, listened to local music, and participated in hula hoop and beanbag toss contests.
Jeff Glover entertained guests by playing guitar on a small stage in the MedPark parking lot.
Glover, the owner of the computer consulting company the Byte Geek, has lived in Denton for 30 years, and said he was excited for Denton to expand its public transportation.
Under white plastic tents, local vendors such as Costco, McAlister’s Deli, Main Street Medical Care, and Studio B Performance Arts endured the heat to support the opening of the A-Train at the Highland Village station.
Studio B Performance Arts, a nonprofit organization located in Highland Village, partnered with the DCTA for the event. Five child actors performed four skits throughout the day to inform people what the Highland Village area has to offer and how they could take advantage of it with the new train.
As cars filled up the station’s parking space, residents crowded under the tents, grabbing free items that vendors were giving away such as balloons and popsicles, and talked with DCTA Director of Operations Bob Neander about the history of the A train and the potential growth.
“I think it’s going to improve the quality of people’s lives,” said Katherine Stimson, the marketing manager of the Main Street medical care.
The Old Town Station in Lewisville welcomed the A-train with music and food at the fourth stop of Saturday’s Rock n’ Rail Celebration in honor of the new line connecting Denton to Dallas.
“All the vendors here are local,” said Leslee Bachus, the executive assistant with the DCTA and Old Town station manager. “So you can get a real feel for the area.”
DATCU Credit Union, Health First Point Wellness Center, Culligan’s and other businesses set up tents in front of the station.
Hot dog vendor Fletcher’s was on hand to sell corn dogs, and local musicians Victor Andrada, Miracle Lane and Burton Tyler played music for the gathered crowd.
Bachus said she had a staff of 18 people, but credited an “army of volunteers” and interns with making the celebration a success.
Dallas resident Omar Jimenez said he was taking the line all the way to Denton. He said he planned on using the train to “sightsee” and learn about other places in North Texas.
Onlookers battled strong winds and temperatures nearing 100 degrees Saturday, as the first Hebron station A-train sped off into the distance.
On cue, the rock and blues band Old City Lights began to play an upbeat song that echoed across the newly constructed brick station, the final stop of the Rock and Roll Station Celebration.
The first passengers to ride included those who previously registered online.
Local vendors included Raising Cane’s Chicken, which handed out free water and coupons, and local artists.
“I’ve been in charge of my business for 30 years,” said Linda Chidsey, who brought some of her handmade jewelry to sell. “A friend of mine told me this was happening and I’m always looking for somewhere to sell my art.”
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