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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

The Hamilton Live

Acclaimed jazz saxophonist Tia Fuller has made a name for herself appearing with such high-profile artists as Beyonce, Esperanza Spalding, and Terri Lyne Carrington. Tia and her quartet performed music from her CD “Angelic Warrior” on our latest edition of "The Hamilton Live."