ROCKLAND COUNTY TIMES
Thousands of adults and children have already visited the annual model railroad show in Pearl River its first two weeks, causing sponsors to consider extending the popular show an additional week this year.
The show opened at the Pearl River United Methodist Church at Washington Avenue and John Street in downtown Pearl River on Feb. 15 and has been running every Saturday and Sunday since then, as well as on Monday, Presidents Day on Feb. 17.
There are literally dozens of operating trains running continuously on five major display boards from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Saturday and Noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays. They are controlled by volunteer members of the Bergen County Model Railroad Club, which produces the show annually in conjunction with the church in what has become one of the most popular family attractions to be seen anywhere in the region.
Most of the club members, young and old themselves, are dressed in railroad gear including engineers’ grey caps and either railroad jackets or tee shirts, emblazoned with the names of famous lines (“Nickel Plate Road”, “Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fee”), local routes (Erie, West Shore, New York Central, Pascack Valley) and even the whimsical (“Toonerville Trolley”, “Thomas the Engine”) and others.
Gauges of the trains on display, and in continuous operation, include “O”, “S” and Standard, and there are literally hundreds of scale model buildings to go along with the trains, most congregated in a variety of village clusters, along with a couple of sky rides, several industrial operations such as mining, lumbering, ranching and similar activities.
Most of the trains sound their horns continuously and are both internally and externally lit, which along with the similarly lit buildings and streetscapes makes for spectacular scenery when all of the lights in the room are suddenly lowered every half hour or so.
There are plenty of chairs, stools, benches and even small portable railroad passenger steps for everyone from grandparents to the smallest children to be able to enjoy each of the exhibits and displays throughout the large auditorium adjacent to the church in its Sunday school addition facing South John Street.
And for those planning to stay for two or three hours, there is even a wonderful railroad dining car luncheonette featuring a wide variety of snacks, meals, drinks and even railroad souvenirs at reasonable prices.
The show was scheduled to run through this coming weekend of March 1 and 2, but is being considered for a one week extension because of its extreme popularity this year. Further information about days and hours of operation are available by calling the Pearl River United Methodist Church at 735-2241.
For those not familiar with the church, it is located diagonally across the street from the gazebo in the Central Avenue Park, and a half-block east of the Pearl River Public Library on Franklin Avenue. There is plenty of curbside street parking near the church on both Franklin Avenue and John Street, although it has been somewhat tricky this year because of the large piles of snow.
Information about the Bergen County Model Railroad Club is available from any of the dozens of volunteer members who are manning each display table and the ticket booth. Admission prices are $5 for adults and $2 for children, and everyone is encouraged to bring cameras of every variety to take photographs of the youngsters enjoying the spectacular show.