Great Train show opens Friday

Hey! There’s a drive-in movie theater in town!

OK, you can’t pack your kids into the SUV and motor over to a big screen on Route 7.

The Wilton Drive-In is one of the new layouts at the Wilton Historical Society’s annual Great Trains exhibition, which opens Friday, Nov. 28, from noon to 4.

The society’s buildings are dressed for the holiday season, ready to welcome visitors the day after Thanksgiving, who can also get their Black Friday shopping on at the Betts Store, which is also open and features some train-related items, including engineer hats, train whistles and buttons.

Friday’s festivities will get under way with entertainer Tom Hooker Hanford from 1 to 2. Mr. Hanford will present “Fiddle Dee Dee: Children’s Folk Songs of Old New England,” including singing games, ballads, comical ditties, rounds and sea chanteys, weaving together music, storytelling and colorful painted masks.

There is also a special event on Saturday, Nov. 29. From 11 to 1, children may decorate their own holiday wrapping paper. (The fee for this event is members: $5 per child to a maximum of $15 per family, non-members: $10 per child to a maximum of $30 per family.

But the real stars are the eight layouts and different types of trains — from steam engines to Amtrak cars — making their way through tiny towns, past a circus with a big top and working Ferris wheels, and also new this year — an airfield.

The trains make their way along tracks, up and down hills and through tunnels. There are buttons for visitors to push including those that power light towers, a lookout tower, and a grade crossing gate. The press of another button brings a train man out of rail house.

Trains are in the main house and the barn. Members of the society’s dedicated “train engineers” group, who have been erecting the exhibition since mid-October, will be on hand to talk trains. In a special train room for the youngest guests, there are buttons galore plus Thomas the Tank Engine and a Brio set for hands-on fun.

Last week, one of the “engineers,” Bob Bucci, was putting some finishing touches on a new layout in the barn that was created from items the historical society had in its collection and items he donated.

In this layout, two trains travel on a two-level reversing loop. The tracks loop around a town setting with tunnels and hills, past an airstrip. There is a cattle loader and coal loader, although Mr. Bucci said they need repair and probably won’t be working this year.

What he does expect to have in operation, however, is a military train with marine cars and a missile launcher.

The trains are Lionel O and O27 gauge, with one engine labeled “Minneapolis & St. Louis.”

Over at the Wilton Drive-In, videos will be showing. The train men created the screen from an old DVD player and 13-inch TV screen. Here, the Amtrak train runs past old cars and trucks, waiting for the next feature to begin.

The Great Trains exhibition will run from Friday, Nov. 28, through Monday, Jan. 19, 2015 on Wednesdays through Saturdays, from 10 to 4, and Sundays from noon to 4. Admission is free for members of the society, and $10 for non-member adults. The society is at 224 Danbury Road.