Birthday surprise: 'Grandma of the Year' surprises grandson with Brightline party


There are limos, party buses and even cycle parties to celebrate your birthday. But could Brightline birthdays be the new trend? If one South Florida 5-year-old has anything to do with it, then the answer is a definite yes. 

On Wednesday, Jan. 24, Jonathan Lowell Alperstein, who turned 5 that day, was surprised with a one-of-a-kind birthday adventure on the Brightline train by his grandma, Allison Marks. 

Alperstein is a pre-k student at the David Posnack JCC school in Davie, where earlier that morning his classmates celebrated with him at a train-themed birthday party — complete with a Brightline-inspired cake. 

But why all this train craze?

“Jonathan has been fascinated by trains since he was one,” said Marks. “He knows all the different types of engines and the names of the trains in different countries.”

So what does grandma do to top his school party? Book a Brightline round trip from Fort Laudrdale to West Palm Beach with a two-hour layover to spend time around CityPlace.

🏆“And the Best Grandma Award goes to....”🏆

As part of the celebration, Alperstein got to spend time people-watching at the train stations and playing at the children's waiting area with a foam playset. He also took full advantage of his ‘Select’ ticket with complimentary drinks and treats and watched the entire operations of the stations from inside and outside the stations.

» Need a Brightline day-trip idea? Fort Lauderdale is awesome and minutes away. 

» Before getting on the Brightline: Here’s what you need to know.

» Watch reporter’s ride on the Brightline: “Don’t get on the wrong coach!”

"I loved the food, the different colors of train cars, meeting the conductor and engineer, seeing the engine, the tracks and how fast we went past the East Coast train,” said the birthday boy. “I had an awesome time.”

Upon arrival in West Palm Beach, Alperstein and Grandma walked around CityPlace, but the birthday boy was only interested in being at the station and watching the trains go by. 

So, they went back. 

“Wherever we go, his favorite thing is to go to a local train museum or take a train ride,” said Marks. “This gives him exposure to our South Florida culture and the experience of learning about local industry, government and more importantly, how to be observant and learn from what you see.”

Brightline was just as suprised with the birthday party as Alperstein was.

“This was our first “birthday celebration,” and we look forward to hosting more,” said Ali Soule, Brightline’s Director of Public Affairs via email. “We offer group rates or the opportunity to charter a private coach (or train). Interested parties (no pun intended!) should reach out to groups@gobrightline.com.”

Obviously this wasn’t Alperstein’s first train ride, but it was just as sweet as the others. Marks said this is just another “grandma and me” adventure between her and her grandkid, a theme she puts into practice based on Mercer Mayer’s “Grandma and Me” children’s books

After all, Grandma is an elementary school teacher and she knows that bonding and education are key in her grandchild’s future, which is already looking promising. 

“When we talk about driving cars, his answer is "Grandma, I am going to be an engineer. Engineers don't drive cars."


Curious about the Brightline train ride from West Palm? We were too. Check out reporter Julio Poletti’s adventure during Brightline’s opening weekend in January. He went with the mission to get to the Fort Lauderdale Airport.


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