Thousands pulled in to the Monroeville Convention Center for Train & Toy Show
David McDanel’s eyes lit up every time he saw the lights of a Ferris wheel and a train coming around the track.
He and his Greensburg family returned several times to the amusement park layout of the interactive South Hills Model Railroad Club display at the Monroeville Convention Center.
It was one of about a dozen train displays at the Greenberg’s Great Train & Toy Show July 20-21.
“They love trains, so what a great opportunity. They had a great time,” mother Jennifer McDanel said.
David, 5, and his sister, Molly, 3, got to press some buttons and activate some modular features.
“I think it’s a great family event,” said father Will McDanel. “You can … have lots of fun, especially with the interactive displays. Kids really like pushing the buttons and watching things move.”
Show manager Frank Hicks said the tour stop marked the 38th year the Greenberg show’s been in Monroeville.
It usually pulls in to the convention center three times a year: November, January and July.
Temperatures were in the 90s the weekend of this past show. That didn’t stop thousands of model train enthusiasts and nearly 100 vendors from participating.
“I think it went very well,” Hicks said. “The show ran smoothly. We had a great crowd. A lot of people I think were looking for something to do that involved air conditioning.”
It’s a little more than a hobby for South Hills Model Railroad Club and Keystone Division members, who teamed up to create a 1,000-square-foot HO scale train display, one of the more popular model scales.
“It’s not too small, and yet it’s small enough that you can put a nice layout in not a big area,” club member Dave Murphy said.
Murphy, 73, of Scott Township said he’s been involved with model trains since he was 5 years old.
“It’s just fun and seeing other people have fun with it,” he said. “For me (as a kid), we saw (real) trains. Today, kids don’t see real ones as much.”
The July show was the first time the McDanel family participated, and the first time McKeesport Model Railroad Club had a display.
They also had a HO scale layout. It was about 12by 20 feet and featured the old bus station along Fifth Avenue in the city, as well as a trailer park.
Club President George Sharp said each member created their own section.
“This brings exposure to the club,” Sharp said. “We all have a passion (for trains), obviously. That’s why we’re here today and doing all this.”
The McKeesport club has a permanent train display at 2209 Walnut Ave. More information about that group is available at mckeesportmodelrr.com.
There were wall-to-wall vendors in the convention center. Some were professionals and others, like Oakmont resident Ron Slabe, were just trying to clear out closets full of engines and tracks.
“You come to these places and there’s a lot of camaraderie,” Slabe said. “That’s a big thing about these places. It’s kind of addicting if you’ve been here awhile. It’s a nice get-together with people.”
Hank Jaeger, 70, of Morgantown is a traveling exhibitor. He’s been involved with train shows since 1994.
“I come up here because this show is a good show,” he said. “It’s good to meet people. I come here with trains, and I usually leave with more trains than what I came with and money in my pocket. I’ve been at it so long I know what value is and what isn’t. … You have to ‘sell the sizzle.’”
Hicks said plans for the next Monroeville show are in development. More information about Greenberg’s Great Train & Toy Show is available at greenbergshows.com.
Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, [email protected] or via Twitter .