The weather apparently didn’t get the memo that Homewood had a big day of events planned for Saturday, May 20.
Chilly temperatures and intermittent spurts of rain greeted people who came from Homewood and surrounding communities to enjoy a day of big machines ― Homewood Rail Fest, a PopUp Science session on railroads and rollercoasters and the Homewood Public Works Department’s annual open house.
The damp day didn’t seem to daunt many who had the events in their plans.
“It’s just a little water,” one young father was overheard telling his son.
In fact, the passion of youngsters for trains, trucks and science seemed to be the driving force that brought some families to downtown Homewood.
One mother said she came out in the rain because “I made a promise that was not going to be forgotten” to her 5-year-old son who has obsessed over trains since he was about 2.
“People love their trains,” said Sarah Meeks, a village events staffer. She said the turnout was good in spite of the weather.
Anne Shippy of Chicago said her son, Jason, 3, made her family’s decision to visit Homewood for the festival.
“His dad works for CN, so he’s obsessed with anything that has to do with trains,” she said.
Zach Thomas, director of community marketing and events, said the village always has contingency plans for events, but very few adjustments needed to be made Saturday.
Musician MG Bailey got moved indoors. He performed in the Homewood-Flossmoor Park District Auditorium, where the model train displays and children’s crafts were set up.
Also, CN Railway’s Little Obie stopped giving rides early on because of the rain showers, but the trackless train resumed operation about 11:30 a.m.
Train collectibles vendors and their patrons kept mostly dry under big tents set up on Martin Avenue Square.
“It’s been steady, a pretty good crowd,” Thomas said.
Across the street in the Homewood Science Center (HSC), the PopUp Science event also was relatively unaffected by the weather. The railway and rollercoaster activities all took place indoors.
HSC Executive Director Edie Dobrez said attendance was good with about 185 people by 11:30 a.m.
She noted the HSC mix of activities included some real scientific work as part of the fun. One room was devoted to making rollercoasters out of cardboard and a variety of recycled materials. Kids could then send marbles down their structures and could chart the results.
“By doing that they are learning about physics,” she said. “They are learning about potential and kinetic energy.”
In another room, kids could send a large rubber ball down an adjustable ramp. Volunteer Cameron Nelson explained that at the end of the ramp was a device for measuring the speed of the ball as it passed two points. Kids were invited to make predictions about the speed of the ball in relation to the height of the ramp. The results were then charted along with their predictions.
At the Public Works open house, a number of activities were moved indoors during the rainiest period. There was plenty of room to operate within the public works facility that includes approximately 12,500 square feet of garage.
When the rain let up mid-morning, the event resumed operations outdoors, with kids getting opportunities to operate a pavement roller and forklift and taking rides in a bucket lift.
Inside, there was a display showing a water main leak and how crews patch things up when that happens. And there was an array of big trucks for kids to admire.