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Model Trains Entrance Young And Old At Wilton Exhibit

Jon Perelstein, of Stamford, is one of the volunteer "trainmen" who set up and organized the Great Trains Exhibit at the Wilton Historical Society. The event runs until Jan. 19. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern
One of the train sets at the Wilton Historical Society's Great Trains Exhibit. Volunteer "trainmen" spent about a month setting up the exhibition. It closes Jan. 19. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern
Matthew Hamar, of Wilton, is one of the volunteer "trainmen" who set up and organized the Great Trains Exhibit at the Wilton Historical Society. The event runs until Jan. 19. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern
Hunter Von Arx, 5, front, Morgan O'Regan, 9, back, and Gavin Dinning, 6, right, all from New Canaan admired one of the train sets at the Wilton Historical Society's Great Trains Exhibit on Sunday. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern
One of the train sets at the Wilton Historical Society's Great Trains Exhibit. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern
One of the train sets at the Wilton Historical Society's Great Trains Exhibit. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern

WILTON, Conn. -- Trains bring out the child in everyone -- and that includes Jon Perelstein, a volunteer "trainman" at the Wilton Historical Society's Great Trains Exhibit.

"I get to come here and play with trains - are you kidding," Perelstein said with a laugh about his second year of volunteering at the exhibit.

Six separate displays are set up at the society, including two that are connected by a bridge that allows one train to make a long circuit.

Another volunteer trainman who was working Sunday was Matthew Hamar of Wilton. He said it's a wonderful experience, especially when he interacts with the children who visit.

"It's so much fun. You see the reaction on the kids to all of this," Hamar said. "I enjoy doing this, and I love it when the kids come in. I have a wonderful time."

Hamar, who has volunteered for about a decade with the show, said it takes the volunteers about one month to create and to set up the display. 

Many of the attendees are children accompanied by parents or grandparents. But Perelstein said he's noticed an interesting trend with adults. 

"The first time they come with their grandchildren and then they come back two or three times more by themselves," he said. "And they just stand here and watch because they had trains as kids."

The exhibit features multiple train layouts with tiny towns and landscapes, complete with a multitude of buildings, tunnels and two working ferris wheels. One display is set in an alpine area with a working gondola lift.

Kids can push buttons to blow whistles and raise signs.

"We try to be as interactive as possible," Perelstein said. 

Among those attending Sunday was Connie Dinning, of New Canaan, who brought along her son Gavin, 6, and a pair of neighbors, Hunter von Arx, 5, and Morgan O'Regan, 9.

"I love it," Moran said, adding that she enjoyed pressing the buttons for the whistles and signs. Connie Dinning said she was impressed with the work that went into the exhibit, noting the variety of trains and track gauges and scenes.

The exhibit wraps up Jan. 19 at the Historical Society, located at 224 Danbury Road. It is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and noon until 4 p.m. Sundays.

Members and children are admitted free while nonmember adults are $10 each.

The trains have been donated to the historical society over the years, said Katherine Demo, program and communications coordinator.

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