GRAPEVINE, Texas – The Grapevine Vintage Railroad may want to invest in a security guard. On Saturday, the train was robbed on its way to the Fort Worth Stockyards. In fact, the train has been robbed every weekend since Memorial Day and will continue to be robbed until Labor Day.
Grapevine presents the Great Train Robberies every summer with help from Lagniappe Productions. The mock robberies are meant to be a light-hearted way to entertain passengers on the 90-minute long ride to Fort Worth.
The Dufour family of Little Elm was onboard the train for the July 27 robbery. 7-year-old Hailey said her family was taking the train as a part of a birthday celebration for her little sister, who was turning 4. When the train robber came onto the train, Hailey’s sister “threw her nachos on the floor,” she said. Dufour’s father, Lorne said he chose that train ride in part because he thought the robbery would be fun.
John Aylor, who has been a train attendant for the past four years, thinks everybody really likes the robberies, but said that “there’s always a jump when the first firing starts.”
Aylor said passengers’ reactions are “always positive.” He believes the actors are a big part of that positive experience. “I think they’re kinda goofy,” he said, “But they seem to stick with it. I see the same guys.”
Those actors are a part of Lagniappe Productions, the acting company that runs the Texas Star Dinner Theater in Grapevine. Nathan Beltran, who plays the sheriff in the act, said Lagniappe has been robbing the train “since the 80’s.” He enjoys his job primarily for the interaction he gets to have with the passengers.
Beltran has performed in the robberies for three years and says he has even been able to help someone propose on the train ride. “He sent me a picture of her so I knew who I was looking for,” Beltran said. He then encouraged the man to propose with his pistol. “I was stoked to be a part of that,” he said.
Kelley Ballagh, the train robber, said the challenge they face is to “entertain while managing time.” The trains are on a tight schedule and the robberies cannot take too long. “This is the atypical gig,” Beltran said, “You gotta be quick.”
David Alexander and his horse, Pistol, have been robbing the train for five years. He joked, “Pistol tried to start without me, but I wouldn’t let him.” The actors enjoy their jobs and tend to stay with the train for quite some time. “You gotta be high-energy,” said Beltran.
Hailey said at first she thought, “Who are these people? Why did we stop?” She liked the horses and said “I first thought the money was real. “A lot of times, they don’t know what’s going on,” said Beltran. Lorne Dufour did not tell his children there was going to be a robbery.
Hailey said, “They scared me a little bit, but it was fun.”
To see this article as it was originally printed in the Grapevine Faith RAWR, click here.