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Fun time at Homewood Railroad Heritage Day

Will Woelfel 5 Homewood rides caboose Canadian National's Little Obie miniature traduring 10th annual Homewood Railroad Heritage Day Sunday May

Will Woelfel, 5, of Homewood, rides on the caboose of Canadian National's Little Obie miniature train during the 10th annual Homewood Railroad Heritage Day Sunday, May 19, 2013. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: June 21, 2013 6:38AM



Three-year-old Alan Bertucci knew where the real action was Sunday in downtown Homewood.

He enjoyed seeing model railroads running inside the Homewood-Flossmoor Park District Auditorium during the 10th annual Homewood Railroad Heritage Day.

He saw the various artifacts for sale like memorabilia from old railroads and the hats and shirts bearing their logos, not to mention a wide range of items for model train buffs.

He even got to ride on a faux train around a couple downtown streets.

Alan had fun with all of the above, but he prefers the real deal.

Safely nestled in the arms of his aunt, Michelle Nagorski, of Homer Glen, the Homewood boy watched with rapt attention his arm pointing to a freight train as it slowly made is way thrugh the village’s downtown.

Alan said he liked the train “because they’re tank cars.” He has his own Thomas the Tank Engine train set at home, complete with little wooden cars named James and Percy.

“He loves trains, so I decided to walk over and show him the real moving trains. We’ve been a train family a long time and Alan is the best train fan ever,” Nagorski, 42, said. Her grandfather worked on the railroad and her father had a model train layout, “so the family vacations were to chase trains,” she said.

Her mother, Barbara Nagorski, of Homer Glen, said they’d “go wherever a stream engine was displayed.”

Trains, she said, hold a special allure because they helped build America.

“It’s a wonderful heritage. Historically, where would you be without trains? The people who built railroads were no saints, but by the same token you were able to span this country and had a wonderful way to travel,” Barbara Nagorski, 68, said.

That sentiment was shared by the hundreds who visited the show Sunday.

Emily Finger, of Homewood, said her son, Dillon, 2, is fascinated by trains. He enjoyed watching the large layout built by the Heritage N-Trak Group.

The family lives near the Metra station “and he’ll sit and watch the trains. I think it’s because they’re big and loud and they are all different,” Emily said.

Richard Lytle, of the Northwest Indiana Railroad Preservation Society, said the railroad is “one of the great romances in American history.”

“From the 1830s until just after World War II, trains are how anybody went anywhere. You get the old guys who worked on the railroad and the kids who wonder, ‘Wow, what do trains do?’ ” he said. The train show attracted Missy Hoffman, of Crown Point, Ind., who brought train-loving nephew Ricky Hoffman, 5, of Highland, Ind. Ricky has train layouts “at his house, my house and grandma’s house,” said his aunt, who takes him to train-themed places often.

Andrew Urbanski, 30, of Tinley Park, was Ricky’s age was when he got hooked on trains. Tucked under his arm was a metal sign with a large “W.” He paid $15 for it.

“This is whistle post sign off the Wabash Railroad. It’s for a grade crossing, to notify the engineer has to honk the horn. This came of the line through Palos Park and Orland Park. I grew up over there. Now it’s a no-horn area,” he said.

He has HO gauge trains at his folks’ house, and an N scale train in the apartment he shares with wife Amy.

“It’s a fun hobby,” she said.



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