Since 2007, a hallmark of the holiday season in Collingswood has been the South Jersey S-Gaugers model railroad display at First Baptist Church of Collingswood. For club president Hank Worrell, there aren't too many days that are more fun.
"Just watching the children's eyes light up" is reason enough to do it, he said. "For all train clubs, this is their biggest time of the year."
Worrell estimated that some 200 people toured the scenescape throughout the afternoon. Kids young and old enjoyed snacks, crafts and the sights and sounds of steaming, whistling brightly lit locomotives.
The 16-section track display reflects the joint design work of every member of the club, and dates back to 1999, Worrell said.
"There's a complete flow," he said. "Some sections are highly detailed, scale-oriented. There's so many phases of it."
The rail line even included semi-automated gadgets like a mail car and coal loader that Worrell, 71, remembered from his own childhood. Members of the S-Gaugers helped children reload the swing arm, and neither young nor old failed to delight each time it whizzed by.
"These were our toys," Worrell smiled.