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Joyce Endee

Hobo Railroad honors Choo-Choo

August 19, 2009
LINCOLN—Not everyone gets their own theatre for their birthday, but the Hobo Railroad in Lincoln saw to it that one of their most recognizable employees did.

Archie Prevost, of Harvey's Lake, Vt., better known to young and old as Choo-Choo the Clown turned 77-years-old last Friday.

To honor Prevost, the Hobo Railroad has constructed a small theatre on one of the covered platforms of the Railroad's Victorian style railroad station.

"I told him that every big entertainer deserves his own venue," laughed Benjamin Clark, president of the Hobo Railroad, "If Wayne Newton can have his own theatre, then why not Choo-Choo the Hobo Clown?"

On Friday, in a special ceremony to honor Prevost, the Railroad dedicated the theatre, naming it, what else—The Choo-Choo Theatre.

The theatre consists of a small stage, complete with velvet curtain and a podium, providing an opportunity for passengers to enjoy a skit and share some laughter in between train departures.

On Friday, following a brief speech by Clark, Prevost stepped up to the microphone and, briefly choking back tears, thanked Clark and the other employees of the railroad.

"If you work here," Prevost said, "You know that the Hobo Railroad don't do things in a small way."

Prevost recounted how, upon retiring after 38 years of working as an engineer on the Canadian Pacific Railroad, he came to work part-time for the Hobo Railroad as an engineer.

"Just to keep busy," he said.

But that changed when Prevost, who spends his winters in Florida, decided to attend "Clown College" in Orlando.

"A few years ago, he told me that he was going to clown school and I thought he was joking," Clark said. "I thought at first he had spent too much time in the Florida sun."

Clark soon realized however, that Prevost was serious, and being a clown had become his new passion.

After railroad employees saw Prevost perform a few of his balloon animal tricks, they warmed-up to the idea of having a clown to perform for the passengers.

When it cam to choosing a clown name, Prevost said it was a no-brainer.

"I chose Choo-Choo the Clown—what else could it have been?"

With his sidekick Mr. Phil, visitors and passengers are treated to performances of balloon sculpting, magic tricks, and jokes.

"As I get older, I get younger," Prevost said. "If you can find a fun job like this, take it. It will keep you young. As clowns, we turn teardrops into smiles and keep people coming back for more."

Out of all the jobs at the Hobo Railroad, Prevost said simply, "Being a hobo clown is the top job."

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