About 200 diners will share lunch atop historic St. Thomas railway bridge Sunday

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This takes high dining to a whole new level.

More than 200 diners will gather 27 metres in the air Sunday to share lunch, all to give a boost to Canada’s first elevated park atop a historic railway trestle.

The annual picnic raises about $3,000 each year for On Track St. Thomas, the group behind the push to ready the elevated park, scheduled to open in phases beginning this fall.

The money goes toward the park’s insurance bill, something president Serge Lavoie said is needed to operate the park.

So far 230 tickets have been sold and Lavoie said sales are still coming in by the hour.

The picnic is the only fundraising event that On Track organizes. Otherwise, it depends on donations.

This year, the picnic is something of a soft launch for the park, expected to open to the public in the fall on the deck of the Michigan Central Railway Bridge.

“Right after the picnic they’ll start working on putting in the permanent guard rails,” Lavoie said.

“Once the railing system is around part of the bridge, then we’ll be able to open the gate and allow people up there on a regular basis.”

Construction of the park will be done in phases as donations come in. By the time of the fall grand opening, about one-quarter of the bridge will be open to the public.

Lavoie said he expects to organize event to celebrate the opening in October, but no date is set yet.

Already, there are two planters with maple trees on the bridge and more plantings will be added.

The wooden decking won’t go in until next spring’s construction season.

Local blacksmith artist Scott McKay’s railway-themed sculpture, Mixed Signals, installed this week, will be on display for the weekend event. It’s the second sculpture he’s done for the project.

McKay said the railway inspiration for the sculpture came easily.

“I just started looking at all the different signs that you see around and imagery that was associated with the railroad, and then I just got the idea to put it all together,” he said.

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What: Third annual elevated picnic

When: Aug. 27 from 12:30 to 3 p.m.

Where: Michigan Central Railway bridge at King and Centre Street in St. Thomas

Tickets: $30 per person from www.elevatedpicnic2017.eventbrite.ca

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