News / Arts & Entertainment

Trains Drive Baltimore Holiday Display

Trains Light Up Baltimore Holiday Displayi
X
December 23, 2013 8:53 PM
Decorating for the Christmas holiday is in full swing in December in the United States And for many in Baltimore, Maryland, it would not be a holiday season without train gardens. Fire stations in the port city have a long-standing tradition of hosting holiday train gardens -- huge displays that feature animated figurines and model trains to boost holiday spirit in the community. VOA’s June Soh takes us to one of Baltimore's most elaborate examples.

Trains Light Up Baltimore Holiday Display

June Soh
During the Christmas season, fire stations in the port city of Baltimore, Maryland, draw a number of excited visitors.

The fire stations have a long-standing tradition of hosting holiday train gardens, elaborate exhibits featuring animated figurines and long strings of model trains.

“When I was a little kid, we’d come in with my parents instead," said Terry Scoggins who came with his wife and three children. "I love trains, I love the model trains, I love the scenery and how realistic it looks. It makes you feel like a kid.”  

The meeting room of the Wise Avenue Volunteer Fire Company in the Baltimore suburbs is transformed into the train garden from early December through early January.  

"The train garden is comprised of hundreds of different animated features, whether it is a car that is going back and forth, or a construction crane, it is digging in a hole, children swing on swings," said firefighter Bob Francis, the company's spokesperson. "We have a carnival scene that a gentleman constructed in his home and he has donated it to us to use this year."

Holiday train gardens have been a tradition in Baltimore, especially in firehouses, since the late 1800s. Since Baltimore was home to America's first scheduled rail service, Francis says the fascination with train gardens makes sense.

“Certainly the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was a very big influence in the area," he said. "Because of the Baltimore history with trains, I am sure that that is why the mystique and the love affair with trains is so strong in this area.”

While the display changes from year to year, the train garden always includes symbols that represent Baltimore.

“This year for example we’ve got the steel mill around the corner where you’ve got the train, the back river railroad system, which is an actual railroad that was operated by Sparrows Point Steel Mill,” Francis said.

Abigail Scoggins, 9, has been coming to see the garden since she was two. This year, the circus scene is her favorite.

"Because of how it looks so realistic and looks, makes you look like you are actually at the circus and all the people in the crowd,” Abigail said.

Francis says realism and authenticity is what the volunteers who build the garden, which is funded only by donations, go for.   

“Obviously the Rudolf train, the Christmas train are more fantasy," he said. "[But] the scale of the buildings and the animations and the trains all model real life but on a smaller size.”

Francis estimates 30- to 50,000 visitors enjoy the 100-square-meter display each year.

 “Most times when you are involved with firemen, it is usually not the best day of your life. This is an opportunity for us to be involved in the community in a good time and a happy time,” he said.

Visitors hope the train garden will continue to be a part of Baltimore's holiday season for generations to come.

You May Like

Photogallery Ukraine: Russian Forces Tightening Grip on East

And new United Nations report documents human rights abuses committed by both sides in conflict More

Locust Swarms Fill Antananarivo Skies

FAO-led control efforts halted plague More

South Africa’s Plan to Move Rhinos May Not Stop Poaching

Experts say international coordination needed to follow the money trail and bring down rhino horn kingpins More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Beyond Category

Pianist Myra Melford’s new CD “Life Carries Me This Way” features solo piano interpretations of drawings by modern artist Don Reich. She performs songs from the album, talks about turning art into music, and joins host Eric Felten in some Chicago boogie-woogie on "Beyond Category."