A Free Pass From Uncle Sam

SCRANTON — People in Scranton got a gift from Uncle Sam in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day: national parks across the country were free of charge, including the Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton.

Leslie Brezinski from Nanticoke found herself with a couple of grandkids and a couple of hours to kill, so she whetted her grandsons’ appetites for trains at Steamtown in Scranton free of charge.

“I saw it in the paper yesterday that it was free and I watch my grandchildren and I thought it would be a good idea to spend the day here instead of inside at my house.  Plus, they love the trains,” Brezinski said.

A few times a year U.S. national parks are free to patrons. One of those days is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Workers at the train museum in Scranton say MLK Day is often one of their busiest days of the year. And often brings patrons who have never been to the site before, like Barney Basham and his family from the Philadelphia area.

“It’s fantastic. They’ve really done a lot of work from what it was. It’s really something.”

Free admission at national parks typically falls on a day off from school for students but some students are using this as an opportunity to get some school work done.

“My son John, he’s 10, he’s doing a science project and he’s decided to focus on the Big Boy which is a locomotive over here,” said Julie Ogeltree of Massachusetts.

Big Boy is one of the largest locomotives ever made. It’s in the yard at Steamtown, and the subject of John Ogeltree’s science project prompting mom and dad to drive from outside Boston to see it in Scranton. It was just a bonus that admission was free.

“Yes it is, it definitely is. I think the National Park Service is a wonderful thing in this country and I’m glad that it exists and we have sites like this.”

Admission is free at the Steamtown National Historic Site over several federal holiday weekends. You can find the schedule here.

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