(Nov. 29, 2013) Downtown Ocean City will have a new attraction this holiday season.
A train garden will be on display inside His Praise Place, a ministry on Worcester Street across from the municipal parking lot.
“It will be up and running by Thanksgiving Day,” said Carl Gray, as he worked on the train garden on Nov. 14. “We’re going to open it up to the public. We want it to coincide with the Winterfest of Lights.”
Gray started work on the train garden in early November “because it makes me feel like a kid. And it’s for Christmas and for the homeless, who don’t have anything nice to look at.”
He has been interested in trains and train sets since his grandmother bought him a train set when he was about 6 years old. Some of the train cars, the N scale and O scale cars, in the display are his.
Gray, a West Ocean City resident who has worked for more than 20 years maintaining, inspecting and running rides at Trimpers Rides, had been busy making items to enhance the train garden. He was painting tiny pieces of plastic that would be painstakingly put together to form a carousel.
“We’ll have a town and a carnival,” Gray said. “With real rides.”
The train garden has food stands and carnival games. It also has handmade mountains, made with cardboard, paper bag and paint.
“It’s something I came up with,” Gray said. “Scrunch up the paper bags, wet them. Then squeeze the water out and drape over the cardboard. Then we use gray and white paint and a bit of black to paint the mountains.”
His Praise Place had a train garden last year, “but nothing like this,” Gray said. Last year’s display was considerably smaller than the present three-level, 4-foot by 16-foot train garden. “This has become a project.”
Also working on the project is Pastor Rich Burkhard, who was painting the steeple of a church for the town portion of the train garden.
Like Gray, Burkhard has contributed his own toy trains and other items for the display. He has always loved trains, but his reason for toiling on the train garden is for others.
“It’s to show people who think the world doesn’t even know they exist that they are worth this kind of effort,” Burkhard said. “This is everybody’s train garden.”
His Praise Place will be open noon to 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays and noon to 3 p.m. Sundays so people may see the train garden.
Everyone is invited to view the train garden for free, but donations are accepted. Proceeds will go to purchase items for the food pantry at His Praise Place, which serves free dinners 5-7 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
“We hope people donate so we have enough food to get through the winter,” Burkhard said.