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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regreti
X
Zana Omer
March 28, 2015 1:19 AM
The Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

The Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Virginia Tavern Takes Patrons Back to Medieval Times

European martial arts are not widely practiced and are unknown by most people. A tavern in Old Town Alexandria, outside Washington, wants to change this by promoting these fighting techniques from medieval times. Through combining visual arts, martial arts and culinary arts, this tavern brings medieval history back to life. VOA's Yang Lin and Helen Wu report.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the latest edition of "Beyond Category" blues singer and guitarist Corey Harris performs with his band and talks about his travels in West Africa tracing the roots of the blues.