Trolley, Ho!"Clang, clang, clang," went the trolley
"Ding, ding, ding," went the bell
"Zing, zing, zing," went my heart-strings
As we started for Huntingdon dell
—Hugh Martin/Ralph Blane, "The Trolley Song"
Judy Garland made "The Trolley Song" famous in Meet Me in St. Louis, belting it out in an extravagant number along with an expectant chorus of summer revelers, all on their way to under-construction fairgrounds.
As the new TECO Line Streetcar System gets its grand opening at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, the song couldn't be more fitting.
The 2.3-mile long streetcar route — between the Ybor City Historic District and downtown Tampa — is the first phase in the development of the line, which will be part of a loop connecting the Ice Palace, Franklin Street, the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, Palm Avenue and 20th Street. Extensions are also planned for Hyde Park and West Tampa.
The grand opening is the public's first opportunity to pay the one-way fare of $1.25 ($3 for a one-day unlimited ride card) and take a trip in one of HART's, oak-paneled, air-conditioned, electric-powered streetcars.
The event also begins a weekend of festivities at venues along the line. The Henry B. Plant Museum hosts an open house. Channelside's Fall Festival features live music, a costume contest, pumpkin decorating, etc. And Sunday, Oct. 20, at 8 a.m., the first Columbia 5k Streetcar Run begins in downtown and ends at Ybor's Centennial Park.
Will we revel and fall in love with the trolleys as an old-fashioned mode of transportation? For our Hillsborough tax dollars' sake let's hope so. Also hoping is Tampa Historic Streetcar Inc., created by joint action of the city of Tampa and the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART). Tampa Electric Company, who purchased the naming rights, has their stake too.
Bring three dollars and see for yourself. Hear the clang and the ding and perhaps experience some zing.