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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

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."