NARP: Almost Fifty … Still Feisty.

Regulars here know that I currently serve on the board of directors for the National Association of Railroad Passengers. It’s hard to believe, but NARP has been around, promoting passenger rail and serving as an advocate for rail passengers, for almost 50 years. The association was founded in 1967 and originally headquartered in Chicago, which was entirely appropriate since Chicago has been this country’s biggest and busiest rail hub for 150 years. 
 Specifics for the 2017 celebration—events, speakers, activities, etc.— are just now being formulated, but if only a handful of the ideas being considered actually take place, it will be a memorable few days.
At least one heavyweight individual will be sought as featured speaker and lots of big names have been discussed, including former presidential candidate and long-time passenger rail advocate, Mike Dukakis; California governor Jerry Brown; plus Al Gore, Joe Biden and a number of others. All great names, of course. Speaking for myself, I’d be thrilled if we could get David Gunn, the extremely competent Amtrak president who was fired the moment the George W. Bush appointees gained a majority on the Amtrak board. (For many, especially dedicated Amtrak insiders, Gunn’s dismissal was the darkest day in Amtrak’s history . . . and that’s really saying something!)
Special events are being considered that would not only be of interest to NARP members, but to the general public and the media as well. One idea that has definite possibilities is a display of a number of private rail cars at Union Station. Certainly the opportunity to go through some restored vintage rail cars—known to rail aficionados as “private vanish”—would be of real interest to NARP members as well as the general public.
And someone has just suggested that the opening banquet menu—from appetizer to dessert—should be dishes originally served in one of the fancy dining cars from the Golden Age and prepared from the original recipes. Personally, I think that’s a great idea.
The specific hotel has not yet been selected, but mark down the dates: Thursday, October 12, through Sunday, October 15, 2017.