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Day 32: Goodbye to a Christmas tradition

December 22, 2011

The Carol Roeda Studio is filled with whimsical treasures that I’d love to scatter throughout my home. But it’s not cheap. For those that know me, you know I’m prone to frugality. So when a 30-percent off coupon came through my email, I figured this was the perfect time to pick up a gift for myself from Santa (gotta play it up with an almost four-year old). As I contemplated an item displayed near the store’s entrance in Breton Village Mall, I heard squeals of delight coming from nearby children. I looked outside the store and watched a little boy’s face light up. “Choo choo train!” he exclaimed. His dad was left in the dust as his two little boys scurried away to get a closer look. A smile crept across my face; laughter filled the air as children and adults alike admired the 18 x 36-foot train set.

One of my favorite Christmas traditions since I’ve moved to the East side of Grand Rapids has been bringing my son to Breton Village to see the train display. The detail of the mountainside village is incredible. From animals lapping up the fresh mountain water to people arguing over what appears to be a fender bender to children loading a school bus, every part of this display is wonderfully meticulous.

Each year, Calin circles the set following the trains as he points out familiar characters from Thomas. He goes round and round, mesmerized by the sights until I drag him away.

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to meet Herb, the man responsible for this wonderful Christmas tradition. He was repairing one of the locomotives. “The trains are getting tired,” he said. “So are we, the engineers.” After 25 years, the trains that bring holiday cheer and wonder are taking their last chug around the tracks this season.

While I’ve only been coming for three years, I’d imagine the Breton Village train display is one of those symbols of home for the holidays for many who’ve left Michigan and those who’ve stayed. I hope someone will pick up where Herb left off.

A game of baseball

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