Monday, August 22, 2011

Two-day Train Expo at Lake Miona Recreation Center draws hundreds of children of all ages

From The Villages Sun: Two-day Train Expo at Lake Miona Recreation Center draws hundreds of children of all ages
By KATIE BACKMAN, DAILY SUN The Villages Daily Sun

THE VILLAGES — Three-year-old Luke Ring sat on his father’s shoulders Sunday afternoon as he pointed to the model trains buzzing around the tracks at Lake Miona Recreation Center.

Luke, his brother, Jack Ring, their father, Michael Ring, along with Michael’s mother, Mary Ring of the Village of Orange Blossom Gardens, wandered throughout the recreation center looking at all the displays and vendor booths.

But the Rings’ visit to the third annual Train Expo wouldn’t be complete without the young boys walking away with some new toys.

Luke opened his train engine, coal car and red caboose at a table in the recreation center’s lobby. Once the train was connected, Luke pulled the train engine around the table while saying “choo-choo.”

“My brother really likes Thomas the Train,”

5-year-old Jack said. “I like seeing all the trains, too.

I think it’s fun.”

The Rings were among the hundreds of people who crowded into the recreation center during the two-day Train Expo.

Al Goldberg, president of The Villages Railroad Historical Society which points on the event, said Saturday brought in 739 people and Sunday’s crowd was steady, too.

The slower economy has effected the model train hobby, but the show in The Villages has had one of the better turnouts in the area, Goldberg said. He said the 34 vendors on hand were pleased with the turnout and all expressed interest in participating in next year’s expo.

He said he was pleased to see many of the residents brought their grandkids, too.

“If kids get hooked on model trains when they’re young it will stick with them for life,” Goldberg said. “They might not be as interested in high school or college, but they will gain it as a hobby later on in life again.”

Michael said everyone in the family likes trains, and especially watching models trains. He said he remembered playing with trains when he was younger, especially around Christmastime, and his sons have those memories, too.

Michael’s said his children mostly associate model trains with Thomas the Train, the fictional steam locomotive character. But for him, he mostly thinks of the Lionel trains of his youth.

Mary wanted to bring her grandsons to the event because she knew they would enjoy seeing the trains.

“I love seeing my grandsons and I’m glad this is here in

The Villages for us to see while they’re here,” Mary said. “We like seeing all the collectibles, but we really look forward to the Christmas train show.”

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