Thursday, August 15, 2013 , Updated 8:00 a.m., August 17, 2013
Model train expo chugs through Plano on Saturday
Bring the little ones and be conductor for a day.
PLANO Once again, the North Texas Chapter of the Train Collectors Association is inviting the public to be conductor for a day at its annual train show this Saturday.
From 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Plano, the show will feature large, operating train layouts and a special one for children to operate, as well as contests, workshops, vendors, and a silent auction, proceeds from which will go toward the TCA Lone Star Division.
In the past year, the local chapter has grown from 110 to 122 members, hailing from all parts of North Texas and even as far away as Louisiana. The chapter has been active since 1954 and, although membership waned for a few years, Vice President Jon Regel said he feels as if the association is strengthening thanks to a growing interest from the younger generations.
The 501(c)3 chapter -- which is part of the Lone Star Division of the TCA -- is also supporting the Museum of the American Railroad by supplying it with volunteers and monetary donations. The museum has recently moved its location from Fair Park to Frisco, bringing with it the prized piece of its collection -- a 1.2 million pound Union Pacific Big Boy steam locomotive. Eagerly awaiting Big Boy's arrival, Regel, a Frisco resident, said having the museum in Collin County is very exciting, not only for enthusiasts but for the area in general.
"We're so happy that the museum is coming here north of Dallas because it's going to make it that much easier to build interest of trains of any size [here]," Regel said. "This is the largest steam engine ever produced. It'll be a really great draw for the city of Frisco."
For $6 for adults or $9 per family, the train show boasts being low in affordability and high in entertainment. Because it can be hard to describe in detail for those who have never been to the show, Regel suggested checking out a YouTube video showcasing his layout. The video -- which can be found by searching Regel's name on the website -- is also synced to a song that was actually written for "Engineer Jon the Choo Choo Man's" passion.
"I've never seen a child -- anyone from 5-years-old up to 18 let's say -- who didn't have an interest in watching trains go around or watching smoke come out of steam engine. They get mesmerized with it," he said.
In addition to the usual sights and sounds, this year's show will include demonstrations and educational. Representatives from Operation LifeSaver will be offering educational material, coloring books, whistles, and advice on how to increase awareness when it comes to railroads and railroad crossings. In terms of the model trains, Werner will be offering demonstrations on some of the new electronic technologies available for hobbyists.
"Trains have come a long way from back when I was a little boy. It's all digitally controlled. [But] I love nostalgia, I love doo wop music," Regel said jokingly. "Now my kids, grandkids, and even great grandkids, they love to run trains. There are so many activation devices out there now that weren't there in the 1950s. This is the new concept of model railroading."
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