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Richardson Trainman Shares the Magic Again in 2010
Joel Occhiuzzo and his wife, Bebe, are no strangers to their Richardson, Texas neighbors. They invite all who care to experience the magic to their home every holiday season from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve.
Joel and his wife, Bebe, are no strangers to their Richardson neighbors. They invite all who care to experience the magic to their home every holiday season from Thanksgiving to New Year's Eve. His train brings spectators and riders from all over local communities to wait patiently in lines that surround their block – last year as many as 600-800 on an average night, but 1200 passengers came on Christmas Eve!
What's the big appeal? What started out to simply visually entertain his young grandchildren, became so much more when they asked if they could go for a ride. Neighborhood children would watch as they went around the next year's train, and after that the whole community got involved. Characters like Spiderman and Superman, Mickey Mouse and reindeer all surround the wonderland now. They've incorporated a realistic sound system, so between the train chugging and blowing its horn, the holiday music, and the waterfall of lights put to sound - they really have captured a magical experience.
Children of all ages can ride the train Joel and his volunteers have so carefully built. There's room for their parents, too. Last year one of the volunteers suggested they add a special needs section to the last car so the wheelchair-bound could experience the whimsical lights and characters. It was a hit. "The joy it brings me to watch their eyes light up, I just can't express," says Joel, 77.
Bebe enjoys the fun as much as the visitors, but for her, the real enjoyment comes from watching Joel's expressions as he conducts the Holiday Express Riding Train around the track again. "It never gets old for him," says Bebe, "He just smiles and smiles from ear to ear the whole time!"
This year, as in years past, he's calling for all who would like to help participate in the assembly of the scene. The maintenance of the train is very time consuming due to the amount of travel it ultimately gets. Joel doesn't want to stop showing kids from all backgrounds, ages, and circumstances a magical experience. He needs help with the expenses and the actual physical assembly to keep everything safe. Won't you consider giving Joel a call to see how you can help?
This year one volunteer put the designs and blueprints to CAD drawings in an attempt to draw attention to the financial needs of the train. Joel then had his website rebuilt to showcase the train and the CAD representations. Visitors can now donate financially through his website, or if they prefer, they can sponsor the train and receive a CD containing a copy of his CAD drawings of the Holiday Express Riding Train for themselves!
Go to http://www.HolidayExpressRidingTrain.com to get involved. There you'll find more information, as well as video that details the rides and gets the children excited about the holidays.
Joel wants you to know that if you have a large group - like a daycare, scout troop, or other organization - you should give him a call to arrange special dates and times reserved just for you.
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