Little Obie rolls safety and fun together

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 20, 2013

By Kimberly Hopson

LAPLACE – Little Obie, a miniature Canadian National Railroad locomotive, made a long trip to visit the children of First Baptist Church’s Wee Care Center on Tuesday.
The scale model mini engine and its operators traveled all the way down south from Chicago via trailer.
Children lined the fences of the school’s playground to watch as the train pulled into the parking lot. Older children and their teachers then loaded into the train’s flat car for a ride around the block, with music from Earth Wind and Fire blaring from the train’s speakers. Little Obie’s 44-foot length includes an engine, flat car and caboose. The tiny train is more than 6 feet in height and width and was hand-built by former CN employee Paul Rose in 1996.
“We try to do things that the kids enjoy, things that they associate with. They all love trains. We try to bring everything here to the school,” said Director of Wee Care Wilene Hobdy.
The facility often brings field trips to their students since the children do not leave the campus because of possible liabilities.
“It was a huge surprise to the kids because we didn’t know exactly when they would be coming. I didn’t let anyone know so it would be a surprise to the teachers also, and everyone loved it.”
According to CN representatives, Rose created Little Obie to draw attention to the dangers of railroad crossings and reduce the numbers of injuries and/or deaths.
Morris Evans Jr., an officer for the CN Police, said: “I think they were great. You could see the excitement in their eyes. Little Obie is just a small part of the program. The main part is getting them educated.”
Though the children of Wee Care were a little younger than their normal audiences, Evans said the younger children are more likely to absorb what they learn and share it with their parents or other adults. CN representatives also gave educational activity books and conductor’s hats to the children.
“Part of touring Little Obie is to educate the public of safety around the railroad, especially schools that are within a mile radius of our railroads. We educate them about not playing on the tracks or throwing rocks at a train. This is the CN commitment to the community, that we don’t want to have any kind of injuries or fatalities. ” he continued.