"Being the Mayor gives me a lot of privileges. I can move people, give a family a new car, a house, a backyard, or change their landscaping on a whim" says Tom, designer, builder, and animator at the Choo Choo Barn in Strasburg, Lancaster County, PA.
Groff has been building and modeling the gigantic model train display at the Choo Choo Barn for over 50 years. The layout actually started in the family's home in Strasburg when Tom's father, George, bought his first train in 1945. Their layout encompassed the basement and they would open it up to family, friends and groups around the Christmas holidays.
When a college expense loomed, George again donned his thinking cap and found a building close to the famous Strasburg Rail Road. He opened the Choo Choo Barn on Thanksgiving Day in 1961. The rest is history. "Dad opened with 6 trains and 6 animated figures in 1961," adds Tom. "Ultimately, I turned the display into the finely detailed and scaled miniature wonderland that we have today."
Groff notes that there is so much to see on his display that most people spend at least an hour taking in the detail. "The hit of our display is the fire scene! It's the show stopper, with smoke, fire (simulated, of course), sirens, a responding fire truck, moving firemen and real water."
"As Mayor, I've tried to get the fire company to do a better job of dousing the fire, but it flares up 5 minutes later, like clockwork," Groff says with a grin. "Guess I'll have to add that to my next city council meeting and see what I can do!"
New items are added to the display yearly which brings visitors back again and again. "The entire Choo Choo Barn display is cleaned over the winter. Every square inch is vacuumed and every vehicle and figure is dusted or washed. Many new details are added or changed because that's what adds to the 'WOW' factor of this one-of-a-kind exhibit. It's actually a work of art," says Mayor Groff. "I've taken model railroading to a whole new level. I like to say I'm expanding the artistry of model railroading. My real love is scratch-building. Whether it's buildings, animations or detailing scenery, I love to create new scenes for people to enjoy. It's really a never-ending process."
At 64, Tom says his modeling abilities have only improved with age. And as Mayor, he has an entire landscape to govern. Let's hope he doesn't fix that fire "problem." We'd hate to miss it.
Admission is $7.50 for adults and $4.50 for children (ages 3-11) or you may purchase an annual pass. For more information, visit www.choochoobarn.com, www.facebook.com/choochoobarn, or www.youtube.com/thechoochoobarn.
Choo Choo Barn
SOURCE Choo Choo Barn
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