Thursday, December 23, 2010

The importance of train-ing

See, this is what we get for assuming. 

As children in the Baltimore area, we all figured that everyone everywhere had train gardens of some sort around the house at Christmastime, and that most firehouses did too, all around the nation.

Wrong again, Santapants.

The tradition of having a Christmas garden - a miniature diorama with wee villages and model trains, often with hovering helicopters, ascending aircraft and plummeting parachuters (I just renewed my membership in the American Alliteration Association) displayed above - may take places in lots of houses around the nation, but somehow it became a Baltimore tradition to have them in fire houses, and there is where we find amazing work in action: in plenty of local fire stations.

It wouldn't be the holiday season if Peggy and I didn't make our annual trip to the wonderful display at Baltimore City Engine 45 house at Cross Country Bl and Glen Av (21215).  The firefighters there have nowhere to store the huge plaster mountain and other features that make up the base of their garden, so they have to tear it down at the end of the holiday season every year, put the thousands of miniature houses, buildings, cars, trucks and people in storage along with the train sets, and rebuild it again every year, beginning in August. 

And what great work they do!  The trains go around, skiers jump, skaters skate, and you really have to pay attention to the teeny little details.  A few years ago, my childish heart was made even more gleeful by the sight of the Coca-Cola polar bear...walking away from a patch of yellow snow.  This year, in one of the scenes of a burning house, they managed to make ordinary cotton and some well-placed lights look just like smoke wafting from a burning hotel.  And they made a rock formation on one side of the mountain look just like ET the Extra Terrestrial...with "phone home" graffiti right nearby.

There is something for everyone to enjoy.  Peggy loves seeing the trains go around, and I like the little villages.  The lights come up and go down, and I think you should go down and see this great train garden. Here's a link to further info, and some pictures.  See you in Plasticville!

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