You may have heard about all the fuss … Phoenix, Arizona – the fifth largest city in the country – finally has moved into the 21st century, transportation-wise. The Metro Light Rail debuted on Saturday, Dec. 27. It’s been y-e-a-r-s in the making. And we’ve been y-e-a-r-s in the waiting. But finally, after all the hype and the practice runs and the endless e-mails and news stories, it was open.
Though I live two blocks from the tracks and have honestly been pretty excited about the coming of the train, my neighbor, who’s ridden trains in cities around the globe, couldn’t figure out what all the fuss was about. Having lived in the NYC area for eight years, though, I got it. It’s not a bus, but a living, breathing train. It feels like our city’s grown up a bit…moved from the kids’ table to now dine with the grown-ups. Not sure how much it will help/affect the gridlock traffic, but I love the idea of living in a city with a train system.
Phoenicians have mixed feelings about the new train. Some feel it’s a huge waste of taxpayer money, while others share my more charitable view. One thing’s for sure – we know how to throw a party. Depending on which news source you read, between 90,000 and 150,000 people came out for the debut. People literally waited HOURS for a chance to ride the thing. My friends and I took a shuttle bus to a mid-line stop and had to wait only about 15 minutes before being able to board. We rode only about 4 miles along the 20-mile track, exiting in the downtown area where one of the biggest parties was in full swing.
Oh – and we were wearing banana suits at the time. Seriously.
Like many girls named Anna, my friend, Anna Kruchten, endured the ubiquitous “Anna Banana” teasing as a child. She, however, decided to turn her moniker into a money-maker when she opened her own real estate agency and christened it Anna Banana Realty. Now she, her agents, and assorted other banana-types make a regular thing of donning banana suits and hitting the town for coffee, lunch, ribbon-cuttings, charity events, and every other opportunity that arises. The Light Rail grand opening was tailor-made for this Banana Bunch.
The most amazing thing was how many people stopped us to ask if they could get a picture with us…as if we were famous or interesting or important. OK, I guess we were interesting. Probably 60 percent of those who stopped us asked WHY we were wearing the banana suits. But a surprising number didn’t seem to care – they just wanted to preserve their moment with the five human bananas in digital imagery.
Some asked where we got the costumes…Bert Easley’s Fun Shop, of course.
Bananas costumes. Seriously.
So when it came to Christmas gifts this season for Anna and her husband, Gary, I naturally had to go along with the banana theme. I made matching banana stockings! The color’s a little on the orangey side…but other than that, they somewhat resemble the banana suits…and actual bananas. They’re a little narrow, but still wide and deep enough to accommodate all kinds of great stocking fillers.
I haven’t ridden the train again since the first day, even though it’s free through New Year’s Eve – but I have no doubt I will ride again soon. Did I mention they’ve even made the train cars bike friendly?! As appealing as the notoriety may be, next time I ride, though, I think I’ll leave the banana suit at home.