Catherine Verdier lives in Norfolk with her husband and daughter. She blogs about kid-friendly living in Hampton Roads at Where the Watermelons Grow.
Just in time for the Christmas season, my 20-month-old daughter, Baby Anne, seems to have developed an obsession with all things train, and when my husband J. and I heard about the Atlantic Coast S Gaugers’ holiday train show, we knew we’d have to find the time to take her.
Last week, we managed to scrounge a few spare hours, bundled up, and drove to the Selden Arcade in Downtown Norfolk for a healthy dose of holiday cheer.
This was the first train show for all of us, and we weren’t sure what to expect other than the chance to see some model trains. But the show ended up being so much more interactive than we realized.
A large train table was set up, featuring a winter village scene; buttons on the sides of the table controlled dozens of models within the scene. Miniature children went up and down on miniature swings, a tiny kite swayed in the breeze, and the windows of a small warehouse lit up with flames and went out again.
Through it all, several trains sped around and around the village, with clanging bells and whistles and (real!) smoke billowing from the tiny smokestacks. The amount of detail – from the postage-stamp-sized billboards to the gilt on the carousel horses’ bridles, to the tiny panes of glass in the windows of the houses – put a smile on our faces and made us all say, “Wow,” more than once.
J., A., and I went around the scene several times trying out our favorite buttons over and over (A. was especially fond of the button that made little explosions go off in the fireworks shop – I’m going to have to watch her closely come July).
After we’d marveled at every little detail, we visited a smaller table set up in the back, to say hi to Thomas the Tank Engine all of his friends from Sodor. The best part? Peeking inside the mini-conductor booth and trying out some train whistles for ourselves.
The Atlantic S Gaugers will be at Selden Arcade through Dec. 22, 2012. Admission is free. More information can be found HERE.