The Chinese characters for “crisis” consist of “danger” and “opportunity”. While somewhat optimistic, the truth is that in the midst of a dangerous crisis, opportunities can arise. The WW&F is seizing the current crisis to move forward as a stronger organization.
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Museum has suspended public train rides, including special events, until a grand-reopening can occur on our “Annual Picnic”, August 8, 2020.
While this is disappointing, we thought it would be most beneficial to our volunteers, partners, and visitors to make this decision now so that plans can be made as the pandemic subsides and our lives return to normal.
This decision has an immediate effect on the following events and activities, some of which have been planned for several months:
- The Spring Work Weekend has been cancelled. It will be replaced with several additional work sessions to be held once “social distancing” restrictions have been lifted.
- The Annual Meeting will be held via teleconference. Interested members should visit our web site for details on how to participate.
- ALL public trains, special events, and private charters that were to take place before 8/8/2020 are cancelled. Some may be rescheduled, if possible. These include “Alna Day” (7/11) and two “Music on the Railway” concerts (6/27 and 7/25.) We will be contacting affected organizations, partners, and ticket holders in the coming weeks.
Those who received vouchers for free train rides in 2020 should be aware that these tickets are no longer redeemable until after August 8, 2020. Instead, we will honor them as best as we can during the remainder of the 2020 operating season.
Moreover, the operating schedule for Fall 2020 will not include scheduled train service on most Sundays. Instead, we are hoping that we can offer a full slate of train rides and special events, including concerts, presentations, festivals, pumpkin trains, Christmas Tree trains, and (of course, the ever-popular) Victorian Christmas. These details are still being developed and will be announced when finalized.
The opportunity here is that while the rails lay dormant, our volunteers are free to work (as appropriate) on the backlog of maintenance tasks that were scheduled for this Spring, but curtailed due to the pandemic. This also will allow (we hope) new faces to join our volunteer corps on scheduled work days (weekends and week days) through to our grand re-opening on 8/8/2020. Again, these dates and tasks will be announced as soon as they are developed (and social distancing rules are relaxed.)
The danger in this decision comes in the loss of ticket sales that was anticipated from April through July. We are mitigating this in a number of ways, including: federal assistance, a $10,000 loan from one of our anonymous members, and increased giving by those who are able to do so. We’ll be publishing more ways everyone can help out (including some that cost nothing) in the coming weeks.
Thanks again for your support of the WW&F. We will steam again. The narrow gauge will echo through the Sheepscot Valley once more. And the railroad of Big Dreams and Little Wheels will soldier on. Until then, be safe.