(CNN) — The romance of a train trip cannot be denied.
While local municipalities debate regional transit and Amtrak fights for funding in Congress, trains continue to fascinate adult and child-sized enthusiasts alike.
That's why Amtrak is sponsoring Amtrak Train Days starting Saturday, May 9, at Chicago's Union Station.
The celebration stretches into November so that train aficionados will have ample opportunity to don their engineer caps and flock to their local stations to admire the transportation system that crisscrosses the United States.
Amtrak Train Days replaces the company's National Train Day, which rallied train enthusiasts for seven years but didn't allow for Amtrak officials or the company's exhibit train -- an Amtrak museum on rails -- to appear at more than a few events.
"The turnout has been tremendous, and the popularity of it has grown," said Amtrak Executive Vice President Matt Hardison, the company's chief marketing and sales officer. "We've even had some events in Hawaii, and we don't operate trains in Hawaii!"
Chicago's train day will feature the Chuggington Kids Depot, based on the Disney Junior animated television series. It will host train-themed kids' activities and a special appearance by the "Chuggington Live" cast.
While sharing the romance and history of train travel with train enthusiasts, Hardison says Amtrak Train Days are part of the company's efforts to market their services to local communities.
The party continues through November with Amtrak Train Days events at more than 20 other spots across the country. The Amtrak Exhibit Train is scheduled to travel to 13 stations. And hundreds of communities are hosting their own Train Days events, even without an Amtrak visit.