INDIANAPOLIS — Whether you’re looking for something fun to do with your family and friends or hoping to find a way to give back to your community… there’s something that should check all the boxes in central Indiana this weekend. 

All Aboard! The Nickel Plate Express steams off Saturday, July 16th for their Patriotic Express ride. This family friendly excursion boards at 2 p.m. and tours the sights and sounds of Hamilton County. Tickets start at $22 and come with a slice of homemade apple pie from Wilson’s Farm Market and lemonade for all passengers. 

“Nothing says summer like apple pie and lemonade,” Nickel Plate Express Director Emily Reynolds said. “So, we’re bringing people into Hamilton County to not only ride this train, and have this fun summer experience, but also enjoy things from local restaurants and stores.”

The train switches gears in the afternoon with its 21+ ride called the ‘Uncorked Express’. Departures begin at 4 p.m. & 6 p.m. guests are greeted with a number of libations from Sheridan’s Black Hawk Winery.

“Guests will get four samples of wine paired with chocolate and cheese,” Reynolds said. “It is so cool, when you talk about tourist attractions, we bring in about 20,000 tourists a year or these themed rides and what always amazes me is they’re coming from outside Hamilton County.”

The Nickel Plate Express is currently enjoying the recent renewal of their Hobbs Station platform, located in Forest Park just off Cicero Rd. where the train is parked. The City of Noblesville footed 1.6 million dollars for the site’s renovation effort. Ground was broken in 2020 but construction efforts were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Once you’ve had your fill of fun on the train – head to Brownsburg for the rebirth of ‘Blast Off Playground’ at Williams Park along S Locust Ln near W Tilden Rd. 

The playground, originally constructed by volunteers in 2000, is in need of repairs. Now as then, the town is counting on the support and generosity of the community to make the park playful for future generations. 

“Like all towns, you know, we only have so many dollars and we have a lot of needs so we think this is a great way for the community to get involved and help us stretch those dollars as far as we can,” Brownsburg Parks Board President Judy Kenninger said. “There’s also a big sense of pride when you visit the Blast Off and you know that you and your family helped build part of it.”

The Town of Brownsburg Parks Department is hosting the playground community build starting Wednesday, July 13 through Sunday, July 17. 

The Town of Brownsburg raised $25,000 through a crowdfunding campaign and will receive a matching grant from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority CreatINg Places initiative for the project. 

Funds will be used in part to build new play equipment with accessible features for children of all abilities. 

Organizers say lunch, dinner and childcare services will be provided for all volunteers who register online in advance and are encouraged to do so before arriving.