|"What Lionel Means To Me"
Building a layout in the basement with family and friends; watching the little man pop out of a milk car for the umpteenth time; and rediscovering a toy train set are what many are saying in the "What Lionel Means To Me" essay contest.
As part of the Lionel centennial celebration, Americans are invited to tell how its trains and accessories have brought happiness, joy, fun and excitement to their family, relatives or friends. In 1900, in a cramped third-floor loft at 24 Murray St. in New York City, Joshua Lionel Cowen began what would become the world's most famous toy-train manufacturer—Lionel trains. Since that modest beginning, Lionel has sold more than 50 million trains—more than all its competitors combined.
Lionel trains rank with "motherhood, the flag and apple pie" as an American icon. It is the fourth most recognized toy product brand in the United States, according to a recent A&E Network survey. Having trains under the Christmas tree began with Lionel and has become an American tradition.
"People are thrilled to help celebrate Lionel's 100th anniversary by writing about a toy that has brought joy into their lives for many years," said Dick Maddox, president and chief operating officer of Lionel L.L.C.
"Lionel trains truly make a difference in people's lives."
Contestants are asked to write a 100-word essay based upon some actual historical event using Lionel products and explain how the trains have impacted their life. The contest will run through Jan. 31, 2001.
For Suzanne McClain of Maben, Miss., Lionel trains go with setting up the Christmas tree especially now for her father who has cancer.
"Recently we found out our father has cancer and we only have one Christmas left with him," she writes. "This Christmas, we will revisit our youth."
As his collection of trains grew, James E. Nelson, 55, of Columbia Md., designed a Lionel layout and wired it himself when he was 13.
"When my nephew became old enough to appreciate Lionel, I gave him parts of my train collection and passed on the tradition," he writes.
To enter the contest, simply visit www.lionel.com and click on the What Lionel Means To Me Essay Contest link, or write to Lionel 100-Year Anniversary Essay Contest, P.O. Box 36202, Houston, TX 77236-6202. All entries must be received by Jan. 31, 2001 to be eligible.
The Grand Prize winner will receive a Lionel gold-plated 700E Hudson steam locomotive with display case autographed by Richard Maddox, president and chief operating officer of Lionel L.L.C. ($1,400 value); 1st place prize, a Lionel Lines 4-6-2 Pacific steam locomotive ($500 value) autographed by Richard Maddox, president and chief operating officer of Lionel L.L.C.; 2nd place prize, a Lionel lighted birthday boxcar ($70 value); 3rd place prize, the Limited Edition official 100th anniversary commemorative poster which bears the number 100 ($16 value). Grand Prize and 2nd place winners also will receive the Limited Edition official 100th anniversary commemorative poster. The 18-by-24-inch posters are in full color, individually numbered and bear an authentication seal.
About Lionel L.L.C.
Lionel trains are the most valued toy trains in the market today, being collected and operated by more than 100,000 toy-train hobbyists. The success of Lionel is the result of a 100-year tradition of painstaking attention to quality. Lionel sells its products through a nationwide distributor and dealer network.
The company has its offices, design and engineering facilities in Chesterfield, Mich.., not far from the auto giants of Detroit. Lionel L.L.C. is owned by Wellspring Capital Management L.L.C., a leading investment firm, along with Neil Young, and Richard Kughn, chairman emeritus and prior owner of Lionel Trains Inc.