Good natured Thomas doesn’t seem fazed by Big Boy, the oversized replica of the largest locomotive ever manufactured in the United States. Both can be enjoyed at the 8th Annual Odd Fellows Christmas Train Display celebrating its Grand Opening Saturday.

Odd Fellows Christmas Train Display an eye-popping holiday experience

November 27, 2015
Santa Paula News

What promises to be an eye-popping layout is comin’ to town with the 8th Annual Odd Fellows Christmas Trains Display debuting Saturday where visitors see the ultimate holiday fantasy complete with all the bells, whistles, characters and stops like they’ve never seen before.

The display this year pays homage to “Thomas & Friends” the famed animated train beloved by kids and adults alike and will feature the “Big Boy” a jaw-dropping replica of the largest steam engine built in America. And, bring you camera: there will also be a special train display photo contest judged by noted photographer and gallery owner John Nichols.

Following the 10 a.m. 66th Annual Optimist Club Christmas Parade the Odd Fellows Lodge will be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the Grand Opening of the display; regular viewing hours will start the following Friday. Admission is $2 each for 5-11 years and $3 each for 12 years on up; ages 4 and under are free. Starting Friday, December 4, the display will be open Fridays (4 to 8 p.m.), Saturdays (3 to 8 p.m.) and Sundays (3 to 8 p.m.); tours anytime by appointment. December 24th the display will be open from 1 to 4 p.m. 

The display is like no other offering several levels of trains going in different directions on several routes mixed with dozens of nutcrackers, a separate Nightmare Before Christmas section (created by Carlos Juarez), fine retro-art centering on transportation by acclaimed artist Robert LaDuke, an assortment of “stops” with unique miniature characters and scenes, stage design and more all in the Lodge Room of the historic Order of Odd Follows Lodge #314, 826 E. Main St.

“Gosh, another year come and gone and I hear those trains a comin’,” said Wes Easley, the display’s chief engineer.

New for 2015 is the return of the “walk out platform” used in 2013, “Only this time there will be two of them…and they’ll have plexi-glass flooring so you can watch the trains pass beneath you.

“I think,” said Easley with what must have been tongue-in-cheek, “the kids will like that.”

Kids and adults alike love the display and seeing what’s new: this year there are ambitious plans to “eliminate the vast amount of empty space due to high ceilings in the lodge room,” that sound sky-spectacular.

A huge attraction is “Big Boy” a replica of the largest steam engine produced in the United States.

Easley said, “After a couple of years of saving and getting permission from Sandy,” a.k.a. Mrs. Easley, “we were able to get a Big Boy engine and tender.”

The original engine, “Was huge…and the 1:29 scale engine and tender by USA Trains are almost 5-feet long by themselves,” and weighs in at more than 70 pounds. 

The replica, said Easley, “Is capable of pulling hundreds of cars if you had the outdoor space for the layout…it will be pulling several of the new extremely limited edition 2015 Limoneira refrigerated cars which are exclusively available through Hans Kahl’s Gold Coast Station in Ventura.”

The always-popular Carnival section will be expanded as will Juarez’s Nightmare Before Christmas display, which “Will include more animation of the inanimate, zombie carnival rides and other undead revelers…”

There will be railroad related art and memorabilia and Easley is looking forward to displaying new Robert LaDuke mini-paintings Easley plans “to transform into physical scenery,” adding another large dose of the unusual to what others sometimes think of as a traditional display.

Set to return is the “Count the Nutcrackers” contest “Which has proven to be very popular amongst kids and adults…as always only one person will know the number of nutcrackers,” large, medium, small and tiny, “placed throughout the display until the last day,” when the winner is announced.

Easley said entries in the new photo contest will be submitted to and placed on the Santa Paula Odd Fellows Facebook page for judging.

Although there is no entry fee to participate in the nutcrackers or photo contest, “Since this is a fundraiser we will have a 50/50 drawing to be accumulated throughout the run of the event, as well as a raffle for train sets,” as well as trains for sale.

Easley said special tours outside regular display hours are welcome with at least 24 hours notice: “We’ll make arrangements for groups, whether it be families, schools, churches, businesses, scouts or you name it for almost any time or day,” by appointment, a visit that could include a visit by Santa. 

Tour groups are also welcome to bring snacks and beverages to enjoy in the Dining Hall; refreshments are not allowed in the Lodge Room.

There is a small elevator at the rear of the Odd Fellows’ building that can be used to reach the second story display with advance notice. 

For more information, make a reservation or arrange for elevator service call Easley, 805-766-4400 or email or the Santa Paula Odd Fellows Facebook page. Don’t miss the great promotional video for the 8th Annual Christmas Trains Display posted on the Facebook page.

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