SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - It's been a landmark in Scottsdale for decades and now the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park has gotten the recognition it deserves.
The park at Scottsdale and Indian Bend roads won the Engaging Local Government Leaders "Knope Award," which honors the best park managed by local governments. The park made it to the Final Four last month and beat out Amerson River Park in Macon, Georgia in the final round. The winner was determined through online votes and Instagram posts.
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The award is named after the character Leslie Knope, who was a deputy parks director from the TV comedy Parks and Recreation.
"It's about time," said Patricia Stillman, laughing. She is one of the founders of McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park.
She and her husband Guy Stillman helped start the park and gave the land to the City of Scottsdale.
The main attraction in the park is the Paradise and Pacific Railroad, which was also the park's first attraction. It's an exact 5:12 reproduction of a Colorado narrow gauge.
Patricia said her husband started his passion for trains when he was given a model train engine at just 13 months old.
"His love affair started there. Every birthday, Christmas, whatever, he'd get another train," Patricia said.
There is also the Scottsdale Charros Carousel, which has 30 horses, and the Arboretum Train that takes guests on a 10-minute loop through the desert arboretum.
"We get people from 2 years to 82 or 92 (years old) who visit here, so it's a passion in this valley. They love this park," said Patricia.
One of those regular attendees is Holly Jaus, who has been coming to the park since she was 2 years old.
"Trains are just something I think are special to children and adults alike. I think of my relatives, my parents, my grandparents when I come here. Nostalgia kind of sets in so it's great," Jaus said.
She agrees that it's the best park in America.
"Every time I come here I am filled with joy and it just brings a big smile to my face," Jaus said.
"Very proud," Patricia said of winning the award.