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Holiday model train display chugs into Penn Hills VFD station for seventh year

Michael DiVittorio
| Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017, 9:00 p.m.
Replica fire trucks and emergency vehicles were just part of the 2016 Holiday Train Display at Penn Hills No. 4 Volunteer Fire Department on Center Avenue.
Lillian DeDomenic | For the Tribune-Review
Replica fire trucks and emergency vehicles were just part of the 2016 Holiday Train Display at Penn Hills No. 4 Volunteer Fire Department on Center Avenue.

Penn Hills Volunteer Fire Department Station 224's model train display will pull into the station at 1 p.m. Saturday to start the holiday season.

The tradition inside what's informally known as “the Ver­ona hilltop” is fun for all, but the labor of love for firefighters is a lot more than that, station President Lauren Fitzroy said.

“We do this year after year as a way to interact with our community in a positive setting,” she said. “It's always great to meet people and talk to them when they aren't in a time of crisis. They get the opportunity to know who we are.”

In addition to meeting firefighters, free photos with Santa on Saturdays, a raffle for a model Lionel train set and interactive games will be offered at the department fundraiser in its seventh year. And, of course, there are the trains and colorfully detailed scenes featuring everything from a carnival to a drive-in theater that shows a different holiday movie each year.

“People frequently come up with new things they hadn't noticed on a previous trip,” Fitzroy said. “A major highlight is our scavenger hunt, which directs visitors to search for certain objects, vehicles, or people that may not initially catch their eyes. I think this year, in terms of highlights, we are most proud of all our push-button interactives.”

Trains run on four tracks, two large loops around the perimeter and two smaller ones that chug past miniature towns. It used to take firefighters eight to 12 weeks to construct, but preparation was cut to about a month because they did not take the whole thing down after last year's event.

“Last year, we had almost 3,000 visitors and we're always hopeful that we'll reach more people,” Fitzroy said.

Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2367, mdivittorio@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MikeJdiVittorio.

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