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Source: http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/story/947560.html

HOLTS SUMMIT, Mo. | Art Kristofik’s fascination with trains started with a gift from his grandfather almost 46 years ago.

“I was 8 years old when my grandfather gave me my first train as a Christmas present,” Kristofik said. “That’s when it all started. Every Christmas and birthday since then, I would get more trains and the collection just keeps growing.”

Kristofik’s collection has grown into a festive ensemble that brings delight to hundreds of people each Christmas season.

“It’s just my way of giving back to the community,” he said. “It’s really neat to watch the reactions of the people when they see it, especially the little ones. They just can’t believe it.”

Kristofik sets up his collection each year at a hotel and invites the public, free of charge, to enjoy the Christmas display and partake in his Christmas delight.

“I think the ones who come in for the first time are completely shocked. They are genuinely amazed at what they see,” he said. “I think they imagine a train running around a track but when they see it, their mouths just drop. It’s just great to be able to bring that much joy to someone.”

The display includes thousands of pieces, including an amusement park, Santa’s village, a residential neighborhood, a commercial village, a military complex and eight working trains, complete with more than 50 animated objects.

“It’s very highly animated,” Kristofik said. “The animated objects give people a chance to interact with the display and make things move.”

Setting up his annual display has grown into quite a task, so much in fact he leaves a large portion of it set up throughout the year so he can work on it for the next Christmas season.

“It has just grown to the point that taking it down every year is too much,” Kristofik said. “I would no more get it all put away and it would be time to set it back up. This way, I get to work on it all year.

“That means I get to play with my toys all year. What more could a man ask for.”

The display is 16-feet by 24-feet with an additional 8-foot by 12-foot Christmas village with various hand-painted pieces, courtesy of his wife, Kathy.

“They are beautifully done and they really add a lot to the display,” Kristofik said.
 

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Great guy! Great story!

I can relate into it. I too have inherited my first Lionel O train from my father 30 years ago. Then starting there I begin my fascination with model trains.
 
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