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A model holiday

Train exhibit at miSci an intergenerational favorite

— Trains and the holidays go together like peanut butter and jelly. There is just something about the sound of a train chugging around the base of an evergreen that brings people back to a simpler time.

“There is always that iconic image of a train going around the Christmas tree, people coming home for the holidays and kids wanting a toy train set ... a popular present back then,” said Susan Whitaker, from Schenectady’s Museum of Innovation and Science.

Whitaker said it’s that nostalgic feeling that brings people back to the museum year after year for miSci’s annual holiday train exhibit.

“It just captivates people,” she said. “I see it every year, multigenerational groups of family members come and watch them, point out things and talk to each other. It has become a family tradition.”

Whitaker said the adults are just as excited as the kids to see the trains, and she finds parents and grandparents eager to share the experience as a cherished piece of their own childhood memories.

Whitaker adds that the model trains are a sure sign of the holiday season at miSci, and each year visitors from across the region visit the museum to catch a glimpse of the model trains in action.

Every year, volunteers from Upstate Train Associates construct elaborate displays of running model trains at the museum. This year’s creation is a 19-by-27-foot display of running O Gauge model trains, the trains most people know as the Lionel trains.

“There is an amusement area, downtown area, industrial area, which includes classic Lionel pieces that move and some buttons kids can press to make the cows move on and off the car. There is also a log loader unloader and something for coal,” said Chris Hunter, curator of collections and exhibits.

The volunteers spend the entire year working on the layout.

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