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The Villages
Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Train show brings Christmas magic to Colony Cottage Recreation Center

Hundreds of Villagers and their grandchildren filled the exposition rooms at the Colony Cottage Recreation Center. The little ones were entranced by the multitude of model trains and were excited to see that Santa Clause was checking out the action. The little ones, their parents and grandparents were treated to displays showing the rail yards of Wildwood as they were in the 1950s.

Jim Bonchek with his train layout.
Jim Bonchek with his train layout.
Conner Griffen with his grandparents, Joan and Jim Morill.
Conner Griffen with his grandparents, Joan and Jim Morill.

As the spectators entered the first room of displays of the Villages Railroad Historical Society Holiday Train Show, Jim Boncek displayed a modern train and an old-fashioned Christmas train which caught the eye of two-and-a-half-year old Conner Griffin, and his grandparents, Joan and Jim Morill. Boncek explained the trains to Conner who took it all in with wide eyes. Boncek, a resident of the Village of Fernandina, has been involved with model trains since 1950.

Watch video from the show:

In the second room, Ed Keen of the Village of Pennecamp and his sidekick, Rudy Kietzmann of the Village of Buttonwood, presided over a collection of antique trains some of which were more than100 years old. Keen has always had an interest in model trains. In 1983, he inherited a number of older trains from his brother. Being in the club has reignited his interest  and made him “feel like a kid again.”

The HO gauge model trains had their own room. Jim Gimenez of the Village of Polo Ridge and Bob Frances of The Village of Collier were operating a couple of trains. They answered questions and pointed out details of the trains and the landscape they were operating within.

Jim Gimenez and Bob Frances answer questions in the HO gauge room.
Jim Gimenez and Bob Frances answer questions in the HO gauge room.

Joshua Birch piloted an HO gauge helicopter in one of the displays as his grandparents, Shelia and Richard Filkins watched.

A 1950s town model.
A 1950s town model.

Tim Fahey, HO gauge scale chairman of the club,was manning a display which portrayed a 1950’s rail yard which had sections for both citrus and livestock. Fahey, of the Village of Hemingway, explained that the display was designed to be easily transported.

“We take this to nursing homes and schools to show those who can’t get out some of Florida rail history,” he said.

The rail display will be open Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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