Walking into a storefront on North Washington in Livingston’s downtown area Tuesday, one could find Dick Grant, Dave Reymore and Roger Watkins checking the final pieces of a popular Livingston holiday attraction.
Typically, around 2,000 people will visit the Christmas Train Village in a year. Around half of that is during the town’s holiday celebration of Livingston Hometown Christmas.
“This is, I think, our 15th year,” Grant said of the train village. “It actually started when my wife and I were first together on our first Christmas. She decided that she wanted to give me a Christmas present and I had talked about toys and stuff. She gave me a Lionel Train in a box that went around the Christmas tree.
“That was on Christmas morning. By New Year’s, it went around the tree, the fireplace, and a chair. This is what came out of it. It’s been growing ever since. This is our seventh location in town and our third year here.”
Upon moving to the area from The Heights in Houston, Grant had a fairly big layout at home.
“I didn’t have room for it, so it was in the attic for a couple of years. I thought that I would love to be able to give it to the kids and then an organization can make some money off of it. I got in touch with Molly Anderson, who was then the president of the Heritage Society, and she let us put it up in the Heritage House the first year.”
Grant said that it looked much different from its current appearance as it would soon grow even more.
There are over 900 trees in the scene, 19 sections of mountains, as well as houses and attractions. To power the entire scene, there is a web of approximately 40 cords that would make spiders envious.
Pieces are purchased online from Lemax, a company that specializes in village decorations. Many businesses, organizations and individuals have played a large part in keeping the village operating.
Grant said it could take about three or four months to set up from scratch, but also mentioned that he would never do that again. He also said this year was probably his last with the train, as the building that holds the set is for sale, and the manpower as well as the will to start over no longer exist. He would love to see someone take over the responsibility after this year if he is not able to continue.
Over the past two years, the train was left where it currently sits. It requires 500-600 man-hours to assemble the scene. The Heritage Society actually owns the set, something Grant gave to the group years ago.
For those who would like a chance to see the village in action, the Christmas Train Village is at 406 North Washington. Though it is free to view, donations are appreciated.
Tours are available Dec. 1-3, 8-10, 15-17, 22-23, and 29-30. All days of operation will be 5-7 p.m., with the exception of Dec. 10 during Hometown Christmas, when it will be open 2-6 p.m. and 7-8 p.m.