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Train show draws larger-than-usual crowd

By Staff | Nov 28, 2010

The 28th annual Scale Rails of Southwest Florida holiday train show attracted a larger crowd than previous years during their two-day show on Saturday and Sunday.
The first train show, which was organized by a group of model railroaders, was held at the Fort Myers Public Library. In June 2003, the Scale Rails of Southwest Florida purchased a building in North Fort Myers, which is the home of the club and is known as the “Depot.” The annual train show helps the club pay their mortgage to keep the “Depot” doors open.
President Peter Gross said their train show has always been a tradition during the weekend that follows Thanksgiving. He explained that the idea stemmed from the traditional samp meets where individuals could barter certain items at the tables set up during the event.
The holiday train show, which is held in Fort Myers at the Araba Shrine Temple features new and used items. Gross said that there were items available for the bargain hunters and collectors.
The operating train layouts were popular during Sunday’s shows as viewers of all ages watched the train travel through tunnels and scenery on the tracks.
Jim Morse had two operating train layouts, the Christmas and the On30 displayed on the stage for viewers to enjoy. The On30, which is equivalent to the size of a queen bed. took Morse about three months to complete.
Morse said he enjoys creating the scenery because he likes creating realistic layouts.
Since he started the hobby with his father in 1952, Morse has created approximately 20 layouts.
Jim Edmier, chief organizer of the event for 11 years now, said Saturday’s turnout was much better than the previous year. Although Sunday started off slow, he expected the crowd to pick up after church let out and before the football games began.
His wife Carol was also at the show on Sunday. She said Saturday there was a steady flow of people between 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
“They were buyers yesterday,” she said.
Carol explained that for the past 11 years, she has bought trains from the event so she can create three to five baskets to provide to different organizations. The baskets she donates to the many organizations of which she is a member are later raffled and auctioned off during their events.
“I feel good about it,” she said about donating the baskets to her groups.
Railroad Education and Learning Center of Florida, otherwise known as “Real Rail” out of Sarasota has participated in the show for the past four years. Bill Highland said Saturday they sold more than $1,200 in merchandise, which is an increase of their typical sales of $800 and $900.
Darrin Kerwin was also at the train show on Sunday to showcase the modules that were created by 7- to 9-year-old children.
He said he wanted to start the group T-Trak, which is free for anyone who wishes to participate because he loves working with the youths.
The group of children are provided with a box that they paint black in order to get it ready for the rails and scenery. After that is completed Kerwin helps the children place the tracks down because it has to line up straight, so the other modules can be connected for the trains to run accurately. The children are then shown how to paint the clouds and trees on the backboard. The process typically takes four weeks to complete and the kids are free to take them home once it is completed.
Kerwin explained that although he offers the T-Trak on Wednesday nights, he is willing to switch the day to accommodate those who wish to participate.
He said he enjoys working with the kids because it teaches them to work with their hands, with other kids, along with tapping into their creative side. Kerwin said it is nice to get them out of the house and experience something new.
“If I get one or two kids I will do it,” he said about holding the ongoing process for the children.
For information about T-Trak call Darrin Kerwin at 273-9928 or log onto: www.scalerails.org and click the T-Trak link.