Kilgore ‘all aboard’ for holiday funPublished 11:35am Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Rodney Kilgore has spent the last four years portraying popular railroad conductors. For most of the year, he wears striped overalls and goes to elementary schools and preschools with Thomas the Tank Engine. But the real fun starts as Christmas approaches.
Then he portrays the conductor on “The Polar Express.” His uniform and mustache are immaculately tailored to match the computer animated character voiced by Tom Hanks in the popular holiday movie. He wields a hole puncher with which he’s practiced clicking out patterns on each child’s ticket.
“I don’t advertise, but I still get plenty of business just through word of mouth,” he said.
Kilgore said he started working on Thomas and his conductor’s uniform about four years ago. His seven grandchildren are spread all across the state. When they come to see him, he said, he wanted them to have something fun to do other than sitting around the house.
Now, the grandkids have something fun to share with their classmates, he said, and grandpa has a great excuse to see them more. Just last week, Kilgore said, he was at Coosada Elementary School in Elmore County visiting his son’s kindergarten class. The students had the opportunity to get their tickets punched and ride Thomas the Tank Engine around the parking lot.
Thursday, he was at Harvest Learning Center in Alexander City, bringing joy to the kids there.
He made a stop at the Dadeville Elementary gymnasium Sunday night for Mix it Up! on Lake Martin’s “Polar Express on the Square” event.
Kilgore doesn’t have a replica Pere Marquette 2-8-4 steam locomotive like the one the movie’s express train to the North Pole was modeled after.
“I’m still working on that,” he said.
But he said children happily settle for a visit from Thomas instead.