‘All aboard’ for the parade: Yellow House resident’s train dream comes true

YELLOW HOUSE RESIDENT Pierce Murray’s passion for trains was the inspiration for the group’s Memorial Day parade project: an adaptive electric bike transformed into a bubble-spouting steam train. 
Independent photo/Megan James

MIDDLEBURY — Everybody loves a parade — but the Middlebury Memorial Day parade could really use more creative floats. At least that’s what the folks at Yellow House believe. So this year, they’ve created a real showstopper: a bright yellow, bubble-spouting steam train mounted on an adaptive electric bike. 

Yellow House resident Pierce Murray inspired the creation. A lover of trains and big fan of Thomas the Tank Engine, Murray often wears a well-loved blue and white striped engineer hat. He donned it on this past Friday afternoon, when the Yellow House team gathered on the lawn of their Middlebury home to paint the Memorial Day train.

Murray was also the key to making the float human-powered: He’s the owner of a sweet ride from local adaptive bike manufacturer RAD Innovations. It’s a recumbent, tricycle with electric assist that two people can ride at once. 

So how did the Yellow House crew manage to transform the bike into a train? 

They reached out to the Middlebury Makerspace at Middlebury College. Yellow House Sidekick Henry Johnson and resident Jeb Plouffe — who had already been visiting the space “just to see what we could do,” said Johnson — connected with college student Talia Trigg, who worked with the duo over the course of about five weeks to design and build the float.

Plouffe had worked in a woodshop before, and Johnson has experience building parade floats (he also works with Zeno Mountain Farm, another local organization supporting folks with developmental disabilities, and also renowned for its spectacular presence at the Bristol Fourth of July parade). Trigg helped them solve engineering dilemmas, such as making sure the train would fit on the existing bike, and adapted tools to their needs. 

They built the structure out of wood in the college’s shop. Then they used the Makerspace’s 3-D printers to create the funnel on top (for the bubble machine), and laser-cut the wheels. 

“It’s really great that this all came together,” said Johnson, while smoothing on a coat of bright yellow paint.

BIP BROWN APPLIES a fresh coat of paint to the Yellow House train frame, which will sit atop an adaptive recumbent e-bike, as part of Monday’s Memorial Day parade in Middlebury. Brown has her own adaptive bike, which the organization hopes to transform into a caboose next year.
Independent photo/Steve James

The folks at Yellow House are excited about the parade, and they’re already hatching plans for next year. Another resident, Bip Brown, has her own RAD adaptive bike, which could be transformed into a coal car, a caboose or even a yellow submarine. 

Look for four local Memorial Day parades this weekend. The first steps off in Orwell at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 26.

The Middlebury parade begins its march down South Main Street at 9 a.m. on Monday, May 27. The Brandon parade starts at 10 a.m. And the big Vergennes Memorial Day parade begins at 11 a.m. at the high school.

Bristol will host a Memorial Day ceremony at the veterans memorial on the town green at 1 p.m.

Share this story:

More News
Crime News

Police charge Monkton man for allegedly threatening Rep. Cordes

A Monkton man is facing charges after allegedly leaving a threatening voicemail for a Bris … (read more)

Education News

New book: CCV instills hope in higher ed

Many young people today are deterred from higher education by the rising cost of college, … (read more)


Historic Monkton church reviving as a community hub

A local cultural hub has come full circle over the past 157 years. In its early decades, t … (read more)

Share this story: