Annual Great Trains Holiday Exhibit expands
Published 12:00 am, Wednesday, November 22, 2017
WILTON — Every year, the Wilton Historical Society’s annual Great Trains Holiday Exhibit grows in size, office manager Nick Foster said.
And this year, the beloved Wilton event grew even bigger with the help of a group of Norwalk Lego enthusiasts who built a large Lego train display comprised of hundreds of pieces and lights.
With many buttons to push and knowledgeable train engineers on hand to talk trains, the exhibit is sure to enchant visitors of all ages, Foster said.
The exhibit opened Friday, Nov. 24, and will run through Monday, Jan. 15, 2018.
“It gives that holiday childlike wonder,” Foster said. “The displays are going to change, the trains are going to change — so every time you come back, it’s going to be something new to look at.”
Since early November, following the American Artisan Show, a group of “train men” have spent hours through all hours of the night setting up the displays, Foster said. Many of them have volunteered for years, channeling their childhood love for trains as they near or enter retirement.
Bart Goldberg of Westport is one of them, having played with trains as a child. He was so excited when he first visited the exhibit last year that he was asked to join in the endeavor this year.
A week before the exhibit’s opening, Goldberg spent hours designing a hamster-driven train stationed near the staircase leading to the lower level of the historical society.
Whether that hamster is real or fake is a trade secret, he joked.
“This is brand new,” Goldberg said. “In conjunction with hearing the Lego people building what they were doing, I thought, ‘Gee, let me try an experiment where we create something that’s just fun, instead of a realistic kind of train setup.’”
For Richard Fuhrman of Weston, his start as a train man began soon after he retired from the New York City Police Department in 2012, he said. And he has shared his passion for building trains with his 13-year-old stepson Nicholas Encarnacion, who also helped out this year and built a smaller Lego set at last year’s exhibit.
“I had a layout in my bedroom until I was a teenager. Then I took them down and packed them away, and when I got retired, I started again,” Fuhrman said. “It’s kind of like a dying art, you don’t see too many kids getting into it anymore.”
Introducing the younger generations to train displays is the most joyful part of helping out with the exhibit, volunteer Martin Hamar said, especially when their eyes light up when they notice hidden features throughout the exhibit. It can be a button that turns on a light or gate, the camera on top of a train that captures their awe-filled faces on a small screen, or a movie playing in the mini drive-in movie theater.
“None of this stuff existed back when I was a kid,” he said. “But now you have all these buildings, all the scales, the people, the cars and all kinds of stuff and it really makes it interesting.
“Sitting around the trains go around the track isn’t so much fun but when the kids come in and they interact with it, that’s the nice part,” he added.
Visitors can view the exhibit from Wednesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and between noon and 4 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is free for adult members and all children under 12, and $10 for non-member adults.
The Wilton Historical Society is at 224 Danbury Road. For more information, visit wiltonhistorical.org or call 203-762-7257.
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