2004 Winter Season

Litchfield, CT -- Contact: Janet L. Serra For Immediate Release 860-567-4506 lhcvbnwct@aol.com The whiz of toy trains and the whirr of vintage Santa Express Trains are among the traditional joyful sounds of the holiday season in Northwest Connecticut's Litchfield Hills, Housatonic Valley and Waterbury Region. ALL ABOARD At the Danbury Railway Museum, located in the historic 1903 station and railroad yard, visitors on the first three weekends in December can board a vintage train for a ride through the yard to Santa's own train, where the jolly man in red awaits, along with Mrs. Claus and Mr. Frosty. Every young guest will receive a small gift from Santa. Santa train rides will begin at noon and depart frequently until 5 p.m. on December 4-5, 11-12, and 18-19. The fare is $7 Historic trains are also on display in the rail yard, part of a collection of over 50 pieces of prize railroad equipment, from a 1905 caboose to a 1954 Pullman car. Included are such rarities as the Boston and Maine Railroad's #1455 steam locomotive, circa 1907. Some of the trains are open for boarding, and rides in vintage trains through the yard are available year round. Inside the museum, visitors will see extensive layouts of model trains, rare railroad artifacts and photographs, and special holiday displays. The gift shop is loaded with great ideas for railroading fans, including toy and model trains, books, videos, games, and caps, shirts and mugs with railroad logos. The non-profit museum formed in 1995 is run by volunteers dedicated to preserving railroad history. The museum is located at 120 White Street, off exit 5 of I-84, phone 203-778-8337. MINI FUN in NEW MILFORD From December 18 to 31, another vintage railroad station draws fans for a miniature trip to the past, the annual "Hands-On Train Display" of model trains. Each year the New Milford station waiting room is transformed into a Lilliputian landscape of hills, valleys and villages. The towns, populated by tiny figures dressed in winter finery, are crisscrossed by whizzing layouts of scale model Lionel trains. They are set up on two tables, 6 by 12 feet and 5 by 10 feet, with almost 100 feet of track. -Over- Visitors can do more than admire the trains. They can take the controls, starting and stopping the action, deciding on the speed and switch points and operating signals and lights. More than one parent also has been inspired to become a kid again and play with the trains, which operate daily from noon to 4 p.m. The New Milford Station, which once accommodated as many as 18 real trains a day on the old Housatonic Line, was dormant until a local drive for restoration began in the 1980s. The spiffy restored waiting room is now used for many events and the former freight office houses the New Milford Chamber of Commerce. For information, phone the Chamber at 860-354-6080. For more information on holiday activities and a free guide to the region, including lodging and maps, contact the Northwest Connecticut Convention & Visitors Bureau, P.O. Box 968, Litchfield CT 06759-0968, call: 800-663-1273, or visit their web site at www.northwestct.com. For more information on special packages and a free copy of UNWIND, a 40-page color guide to lodging, dining and all the attractions in the area, write to the Litchfield Hills Visitors Bureau, P.O. Box 968, Litchfield, CT 06759, call (860) 567-4506 or visit their web site at www.litchfieldhills.com.