Traverse City Record-Eagle

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January 3, 2014

Festival of Trains extended to weekend

TRAVERSE CITY — The piping of miniature train whistles will echo through the History Center of Traverse City for a few extra days this year.

History center officials extended the annual Festival of Trains, originally scheduled to end Wednesday, through Saturday, thanks to high traffic volumes and New Year’s Day falling in the middle of the week.

Bill Kennis, the Center’s executive director, said the festival has been well-attended by people of all ages.

“It’s intergenerational,” Kennis said. “Young and old, everybody loves model trains.”

That appeal was on display at the history center Thursday afternoon. Children and adults alike watched model trains zip along track laid around miniature displays of towns and industrial yards as members of the Northern Michigan Railroad Club made sure the small locomotives ran smoothly.

Ron Vanderhulst, of Kalkaska, brought his two granddaughters to the festival, but admitted the trains are as much fun for him as they are for youngsters.

“Everybody loves trains,” he said. “We just saw a real train in downtown Kalkaska before we came over here. You hear that train whistle, and you’ve got to look.”

Bill Tomlison, of Traverse City, sat at a small display table with his son Joshua,3, on Thursday afternoon. He hoped the trains “spark a few fires” in Joshua’s young mind.

“It’s great he gets exposed to engineering and mechanical things,” Tomlison said. “It piques his curiosity.”

Erick Runyon, 10, said he wants to set up a small city for his own train collection after seeing the set pieces at the Festival of Trains.

“Everything is just so realistic,” Erick said.

The Festival of Trains is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Admission is $5 per person or $30 for a family pass. Children 4 and under are admitted free.

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