Friday, December 7, 2012

Totally Texas -- Toy trains roll for a cause

The Trains at NorthPark

Level Two (near Barneys New York)

8687 N. Central Expressway, Dallas


The boys never met a train they didn’t like. And they fervently believe bigger is better -- except when it’s a tiny version of something usually huge -- like the Trains at NorthPark, the annual visitation of toy trains zipping through scale models of the most recognizable landmarks in the country.

One of those justly-famous landmarks, all Dallas residents agree, is the State Fair’s Big Tex, a miniature version still standing proud despite his unfortunate accident this fall. New model landmarks in this year’s exhibit this year also include the Margaret Hunt Hill bridge whose arches now grace the Dallas skyline, Albuquerque’s hot air balloons, a trolley car, and interactive features.

The first time I saw the exhibit, I was amazed at its size and detail, and it gets bigger and better each year.

The boys are old enough to recognize more landmarks -- those of downtown Dallas from sight, and places like the White House from their first-ever awareness of this year’s presidential campaign. Do they believe the adults in the family have actually seen some of the other highlights -- San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge or New York City’s Times Square? They listen politely, anyway.

The toy trains roll over 1,600 feet of track to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas, which offers temporary housing for families of children receiving treatment for serious illnesses at Dallas-area hospitals.

Admission cost is $6 for adults and $3 for children ages 2-12 and those age 65 and older. tickets are available at the door of the exhibit, or for a $1 discount at Tom Thumb grocery stores.

Although the trains continue their goodwill journey through January 6, 2013, I‘ll warn you that the lines get longer closer to closing day. The exhibit is open Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 6 p.m. with early closings on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. It’s closed on Christmas Day but open for New Year’s Day at the regular hours.

For more information about the trains, and the mission of Ronald McDonald’s House, see

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