PINELLAS PARK, Fla. — Dennis Hoffman knows his trains — his family opened their shop in 1976.
What You Need To Know
- Dennis Hoffman knows his trains — his family opened their shop in 1976
- Hoffman is part of the HR Trains and Toys family hosting its 74th Train Show
- The show takes place Oct. 22 and Oct. 23. from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.
“This is the new Lionel Christmas Light Express,” he explained.
It comes with bell and whistle sounds, along with the voice of Santa, and even little rings of smoke.
“We’re using a scented smoke. We’ve got a lot of scents now, from ‘Christmas Pine’ to ‘Oil Fire Steam Engines,’” Hoffman said.
Hoffman is part of the HR Trains and Toys family hosting its 74th Train Show, which takes place Oct. 22 and Oct. 23. from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.
Generations of train enthusiasts prepping for this weekend’s show- they opened in 1976. @HRTrains 📷 @BCollinsPhotog @BN9 pic.twitter.com/T9ySeIocVz— Virginia M. Johnson (@VirginiaJohnson) October 18, 2022
The hobby shop has been a Pinellas County mainstay, introducing the pastime to the teeniest of future engineers, like 4-year-old Ashton Thomas.
“I love all trains,” he declared as he played with the crane of a self-propelling wooden train, with cars connected by magnets.
Thomas is the fourth generation of his family to live — and maybe someday work — in this miniature model world.
It may start with a simple, self-propelling wooden train.
But it can sometimes end up at a $5,000 customized, locomotive engine dubbed “The French Lady.”
Tom Fernandez is at the controls of this intricate machine.
He returned to his junior high train hobby in 2011. Now 71, he’s been working in the shop running trains — and fixing them — for the past five years.
Like the rest of the HR crew that’s become family, Fernandez takes a macro view of his micro repairs.
“Final product — if I did my part and it works — my customer is happy,” Fernandez said.
It takes a whole team to run these trains in the big world. And a whole family to run them in this little enchanted one.