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28th annual Holiday Train Show to be held over Thanksgiving weekend

By Staff | Nov 19, 2011

If you want to relive fond holiday memories or create new ones with a new generation, you can attend the 28th annual Holiday Train Show to be held over Thanksgiving weekend.

Thousands make it a tradition to see the trains, talk to experts in the model railroading field, and do early holiday holiday shopping from the many vendors who come year after year to the event sponsored by Scale Rails of Southwest Florida.

The not-for-profit 501(c)(3) group makes sure it is a memorable experience. It is held in two parts – the main event at the Araba Shrine Temple in Fort Myers, and the second part a free tour of the North Fort Myers Scale Rail Clubhouse.

This year, organizers are more than excited about the raffle layout.

At the event, you can purchase tickets for the raffle of a full model.

“Each year we have had a donation, but this year we didn’t get one,” said Stan Seeds of the group. “Instead, we made our own, with leaders Barry Schmitt and Ron Supanich, and other members of the club including Dwight Sedgwick contributing. I think it is the finest raffle layout we’ve ever had.”

It features mountains, lakes and many trains, along with an authentic whistle of that train coming along the tracks.

Seeds is a Grand Master Model Railroader, of which there are only six in the world. He and other experts will be on hand throughout the event to answer questions and discuss model railroading.

The event will take place on on Saturday, Nov. 26, and Sunday Nov. 27, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Train Show is actually in two locations – with the main event, displays and vendors at Araba Shrine Temple in Fort Myers, and the second part a free tour of the North Fort Myers Scale Rail Clubhouse.

The clubhouse is called The Depot, and is a hub of activity now prior to the annual event.

Scale Rails of Southwest Florida is an organization dedicated to promoting and encouraging the art and craft of model railroading by preserving the history, science and technology of rail transportation.

The holiday show is their biggest yearly event.

“One model is of the Rainbow Bridge in Victorville, California, which is still there today – a national monument if you will, on the historic Route 66,” Seeds said.

Another is a scratch-built model of the Santa Fe Depot in San Bernadino.

Organizers of the event include Scale Rails President Peter J. Gross, Vice President George Alexander, Chairman of the Board and Organizer Jim Edmier and Dwight Sedgwick, treasurer.

Edmier has coordinated the event for the last 12 years.

“This Thanksgiving weekend is on all the calenders of the top vendors in Florida each year,” he said of the holiday shopping and enthusiasts’ purchase opportunities.

But the event isn’t about selling – it is purely for the love of model trains.

“To belong to this club and do this show is stimulating and rewarding,” said Alexander. “It is a jewel not that many people know about.”

“Everyone should come to the train show,” said Gross, just for the fond memories it inspires. “After all, who doesn’t like trains?”

Children and adults both enjoy the show.

“Vendors do traditional gifts like locomotive, parts, kits for building structures and we also have Thomas The Train and Lionel items,” said Edmier. “We get visitors in from all over looking for trains, and give tours of our clubhouse three days a week. We’re also a designated 501(c)(3), a charitable organization and donations can be tax deductible.”

There will be maps given to those who come to the main Shrine location for The Depot, where patrons can tour it for free, and a children’s display is run.

The Depot is open regularly three days a week, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There is no admission, but donations are accepted. They also offer everything – model-train clinics after the new year for several months, January through March.

The event helps fund those clinics.

The Araba Shrine Temple is at 2010 Hanson Street, 1/2 block east of Rt. 41 in Fort Myers.

The Depot is located at 1262 Piney Rd. in North Fort Myers.

The cost of this Holiday Show is $7 for adults, $2 for teens, and children under 12 and Active Duty Military Personnel free.

It also includes that free admission to the Scale Rails Clubhouse.

For information on the organization, view ScaleRails.org.

For show information, call Edmier at 731-0520.