OPELIKA, Ala. — Four loud blasts from a train whistle, unleashed by a grinning Mayor Gary Fuller, offered a symbolic tribute to the city of Opelika’s railroad history.

The blasts also rang in a new tradition – all 114.2 decibels of it.

Serving as the inaugural honorary Conductor of the Day on Thursday, Fuller set the mark for future conductors of all ages who will sound the 9-foot train whistle each day at 4 p.m. at the Auburn Marriott Opelika Hotel and Conference Center at Grand National.

“As evidenced by our beautiful downtown area, even today we have a rich tradition of railroad in this area,” said Kevin Cross, hotel general manager. “As a matter of fact, sometime around the mid-1800s, the rail line came through here for the first time and really changed the whole area.”

Fuller was delighted to sound off the initial whistles.

“I’m thrilled to be a part of this great new tradition here at the Marriott,” he said. “Opelika is an old railroad town, and the railroads helped build our community back in the 1800’s. So this honors our tradition, and I appreciate Kevin and the Marriott folks recognizing that and installing this great train whistle here. And I was honored to be the first conductor to blow the whistle.”

Those gathered around the whistle were startled upon first hearing it. For the hotel’s recreation supervisor, Amanda Watt, the whistle was “loud enough to be fun.”

“It can go louder,” she said, referring to the whistle’s current decibel setting. “But that’s where we’re capping it at.”


Information from: Opelika-Auburn News, http://www.oanow.com/