MONTEREY, Calif.- An iconic Central Coast park is crawling with kids and parents after a big turkey dinner. Later nostalgia settled in, as some return to the embattled train, seeing a green fence around it for the first time.
The City of Monterey said just isn't safe enough. But some have dubbed the train, their favorite place to play as a kid, even offering to help save it during their trip to Monterey this holiday weekend. On Thursday we took a look at how passionate out-of-towners are about the train at Dennis the Menace Park.
Earlier this week we noticed a few comments on the "Save the Train at Dennis the Menace Park" Facebook page, from people who said they want to help keep the train right where it's at. But it wasn't just coming from locals. This time people who grew up here and have since moved away, are making special trips to see it before anything changes permanently.
"I remember when this thing was crawling with little kids. You could turn all the knobs," said Alisa Nikiforov.
Nikiforov said as a kid, she learned to climb and scraped her knee for the first time on the train. This year she's in town from San Jose to visit family and heard about the city's struggle to come up with a plan to make it safer.
"Kind of was the symbol of Dennis The Menace for me when I grew up. I moved to Monterey when I was four years old and moved away when I was 10. So yeah, it was a pretty significant element in my childhood," Nikiforov said.
Some people at Dennis the Menace Park said it's sad to see this green fence up around the train for the first time in person.
"His life revolved around trains. So it's kinda sad. He's on my shoulders because he wants to see the train," said parent Jim Spivey.
The city said it's a huge liability and several kids have been hurt on it already. Right now, a grassroots group called "Save The Train" and the city are working together to have the train inspected. But some parents said they hope it doesn't go anywhere because even on vacation, they enjoy the train as much as their kids do.
"Actually I was fine with it the way it was. I mean you have to follow them, you can't just let them climb it," Spivey said.
The city said it hopes to have an update on the train's fate, early next month.
"I just hope they don't take it down. Maybe if they don't let people play on it that's ok, if it just becomes one of the monuments you look at. But taking it down would be a shame," Nikiforov said.
The "Save The Train" group recently said on its Facebook page it would have "good news" and a big update on the train. On Thursday, we called to find out more, but we're still waiting to hear back.