Radio Flyer celebrates big birthday

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Celebrating its 100-year anniversary, Radio Flyer rolled out the world?s largest wagon for a party downtown, Thursday. (WLS)

Celebrating its 100-year anniversary, Radio Flyer rolled out the world's largest wagon for a party downtown, Thursday. The classic red finish, "Radio Flyer" banner across the side, and polished wheels all on display on the Magnificent Mile-- just bigger than usual.

This giant wagon made its debut for Radio Flyer's 80-year anniversary. It's 27 feet long, weighs 15,000 pounds and can seat 27 children.

The classic Radio Flyer is as much a Chicago icon as it is an American one. It made a splash at the 1933 Chicago World's Fair and has grown in the Windy City, alongside three generations of the Pasin family.

"We've continued to innovate with more new products than we've ever had. We have tricycles, scooters, and all of them are about active play," said Radio Flyer's Chief Wagon Officer Robert Pasin.

Pasin, whose grandfather started the company in 1917, says the Radio Flyer mission hasn't changed in the last century.

"Our wagon at its core is a vehicle of the imagination," Pasin explained.

It inspires creativity in kids-and parents too.

"He rides in it to the park, diaper bag fits in, our small dog rides along," said Samantha Olds Frey of her own family's wagon.

Olds Frey's 19-month-old son, Lincoln, got a Radio Flyer for Easter-almost like a tradition.

"There aren't a lot of toys from when I was growing up that we would still have Lincoln enjoy. But a Radio Flyer wagon is that universal, crossing-generational toy," Olds Frey said.

Radio Flyer also wheels the fun to sick children in hospitals, pledging 2,000 wagons to the Starlight Children's Foundation at Thursday's event.

"We're just so delighted to be able to play a small part in making those stays a little bit more fun and putting a few more smiles on those families' faces," said Pasin.

That brings Radio Flyer's donation total to 15,000 wagons overall, bringing an iconic toy to that many more children.

At nine times the size of the original Radio Flyer, the world record-setting wagon might be too big. But the classic wagon is perfect for everybody.

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