Students at Villa Maria Academy were treated to an extra special holiday tradition.
Each year, an elaborate train display is assembled for the students’ enjoyment by staff member Joe Trezza, who has done maintenance for the school for 15 years.
Model trains are a hobby for Trezza, who decided to share his collection with the K-8 school about 12 years ago.
The students really enjoy the display, he said, which is stationed in the school’s library from Thanksgiving until Christmas.
“They’re really amazed,” said Trezza. “They don’t see model train layouts that much any more.”
His daughter and teacher Amanda said her fourth grade classmates are floored when they initially see the trains, and their excitement continues throughout the season.
“Every week they see it and they have the same reaction, as if they’re seeing it for the first time,” she said.
But it’s not just the students that enjoy the annual display.
“The teachers get a kick out of it because it brings back memories,” said Trezza.
Trezza said he never had model trains as a child, but he stumbled upon an old set at a flea market about 25 years ago.
“From there it snowballed, I got the bug,” he said.
Now he has a collection of more than 200 pieces, mostly vintage, that he’s gathered over the years.
Each year, he pulls different pieces from that collection to create the school’s display, and comes in on weekends to assemble it over the course of several days.
Although the display usually has a holiday or winter theme, this year Trezza was inspired to create an amusement park scene from pieces he purchased at a train show.
“I thought I’d make it a little different this year,” he said.
The display is made up of about 25 moving parts, which include chapel with a wedding scene, a firehouse with a truck that rushes to a smoking house next door, as well as a Ferris wheel and miniature carnival games.
While the layout details are different each year, the display has become a constant in the students’ holiday experience and is something they look forward to, said assistant principal Jennifer Carbone.
“They love it” she said. “It’s become one of their traditions.”
More pictures of the display can be found at the school’s website, www.vma-ny.org.