All aboard the Holiday Train Show in Essex, running with safety protocols in place amid pandemic

Connecticut Families

ESSEX, Conn. (WTNH) — All aboard a beloved holiday tradition with the usual precise detail provided by artist Steve Cryan. “It’s an interesting time,” he says.

So this year, some things are different. The face wear, for example.

“Bring your mask and we’ll have a good time,” he says, also noting the lack of crowds at the Connecticut River Museum in Essex.

“We have timed ticketing and people do have to buy their tickets online ahead of time,” says executive director Jennifer Carlson.

Staff will also be double-checking the air handling system as eight people will be allowed into the exhibit space every half-hour.

“This room is 1,000 square feet, so, keeping it to eight people, we’re being extra, extra cautious,” says Carlson.

“I’m always working on something or other, I like to keep busy,” says Cryan, a master at creating the intricate HO scale model train layout featuring American Flyers and other rare finds.

See 13 little locomotives and lots of scenery requiring keen eyes.

“It’s just really fun to look at all the trains,” says 8-year-old Lindsey Kawecki of Old Saybrook.

The layout is 26-by-8 feet and contains some hidden jokes.

“Kids like dinosaurs and I was just hearing about the Megladon and there’s a big shark being pulled out next to Steamboat Dock,” says Cryan.

“There’s stuff you have to look for like a bunch of different Santas, it’s cool that the crane is moving,” adds 11-year-old Mitchell Kawecki.

Cryan believes this could serve as inspiration for a quarantine activity: “What a great hobby if you’re stuck in the house to do model railroading and I can help get people started with that.”

“It’s going to be good to have this open for people to come and see it,” says Mitchell.

And that’s the idea.

“Hopefully people can put aside some of the stress of 2020 and just enjoy what they’re here to see,” says Carlson.

Open through mid-February, it’s a dose of magic when we need it the most.

“My favorite thing is watching the smiles,” says Cryan. “This just generates smiles.”

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