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Home > Archives > Amtrak Family Days at Michigan Central Station, 1980.

Amtrak Family Days at Michigan Central Station, 1980.

Black and white photograph from the August 1980 issue of Amtrak NEWS.

Amtrak Family Days at Michigan Central Station, 1980.

Starting with Washington, D.C. in February 1979, Amtrak held a series of “Family Days” celebrations in cities across the country. The events quickly blossomed into opportunities to invite the public to learn about the company and show off new equipment. A celebration that took place at Detroit's Michigan Central Station on the weekend of August 2-3, 1980, attracted more than 30,000 participants.

The main waiting room was decorated with “a towering balloon sculpture,” which provided the perfect backdrop for “youngsters from the city that presented programs of mime, roller skating, gymnastics, modern dance, singing and other skills.” Local artists also exhibited their work, and three were chosen as candidates “to paint a large mural which will be installed over the ramp that leads to trackside.”

The spirit of Family Days lived on in a new Amtrak tradition: National Train Day. Inaugurated in 2008 and celebrated each May, National Train Day marked the way that trains—intercity passenger, commuter and freight—drive the nation’s economy and connect us to one another. Attendees enjoyed displays of historic and modern equipment, live entertainment, fun kids’ activities and train rides.