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Annual holiday train show awes children of all ages

By Staff | Nov 30, 2009

The 27th Annual Holiday Train Show, hosted by Scale Rails of Southwest Florida, Inc., experienced a steady crowd this weekend with many train enthusiasts from the area purchasing new parts for their own collection or just browsing what was on display.
President Peter Gross said they have been hosting the train show since 1983. He said the show has always been the weekend after Thanksgiving. Since they are a 501c(3) organization a great deal of their earnings comes from the profits the club makes during the train show.
The first train show that was put together was held at the Fort Myers Public Library after a group of model railroaders decided to put a show together.
In June 2003, the club purchased a building in North Fort Myers, which is the home of the club and is known as the “Depot.”
Gross said the “Depot” is open to the public on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from about 10 to 2 p.m. while the club’s members work on the layouts. He said there are also layouts for the children to operate at the “Depot.”
The club does not charge for admission, but donations are appreciated.
The show involved 100 tables of various dealers offering new and used model railroad trains and associated equipment, along with layouts on display with running trains.
Darrin Kerwin had a booth set up at the event to showcase a module that was designed by a group of youths ranging from the ages of 8 to 17 years old.
He said he began the group T-Trak, which is free for anyone who wishes to participate, to “get kids interested in the hobby” of trains, due to his passion for them.
“It is free to the kids so the only investment is their time,” Kerwin said.
The group of children are provided with a box that they have to paint black. After that is completed Kerwin helps the children place the tracks down because it has to line up as straight as it can with the next module so the train runs accurately. The children are then shown how to paint the clouds and trees on the backboard.
After that is completed they are given free range of how to decorate the rest of their module, which Kerwin said takes about four to six weeks to complete.
For information about T-Trak call Darrin Kerwin at 273-9928 or log onto: www.scalerails.org and click the T-Trak link.
Those who attended the event all had one thing in common, a passion for trains.
Bud Purcell said he attended the Train Show with his friend to see if there was anything he needed for his collection at home.
He said his passion for trains began after he ran a real steam engine for 17 years up north.
He said he enjoys working with trains because of the challenges it has to operate it correctly, along with making it work right.
Parcell said he currently has a train display at home, which he said is always a working process.
“It’s a good show, they have a lot of stuff here,” Purcell said.
Bill Nolan also shared his enthusiasm of trains at the show on Sunday. He said he first began to enjoy trains when his mother took him to the train tracks and he was awe struck by the huge trains that stood beside him.
He said he has attended the show almost yearly because he has been collecting trains for quite some time.
“It’s not bad for this area, it’s a nice show,” he said about the Scale Rails of Southwest Florida, Inc. annual show.
Cape Coral resident Art Heller attended the Train Show on both Saturday and Sunday seeking new additions he can make to his train display, which is in his garage.
He recently started rebuilding his display which has a running waterfall, street lights, a mountain, scenery and trains which date back to 1946. After he shuts the lights off in the garage, he said the street lights and the trains light up.
Heller bought trains during the show, so he could set up a track around the Christmas Tree, his wife said.
He said he enjoys attending the annual show because he can find great stuff that works. Heller explained that the older trains and equipment that you buy last a great deal longer than the newer models, due to the newer ones all being electronic.
The Scale Rails of Southwest Florida, Inc. will host free 2010 winter clinics, which are open to the public for anyone who enjoys trains and wants to learn new techniques for various aspects of modeling.
The clinics are held at the “Depot” on Saturdays at 10 a.m. The clinics usually last for about an hour to an hour and a half. The first clinic will be held on Jan. 16.
For more information visit: www.scalerails.org. The Scale Rails of Southwest Florida, Inc. is located at 1262 Piney Road in North Fort Myers.