Fairport man brings nostalgic train set to life | Community Spirit
John Ciavarro is an expert when it comes to restoring old toys and electric trains. While he’s always enjoyed taking devices apart and putting them back together, he gets most of his enjoyment from the memories old toys bring with them.
“I’M a very nostalgic kind of guy,” he said.
This Christmas, he’s brought one of his biggest projects — a large-scale miniature train set — to St. John of Rochester Church in Fairport. The set has two tracks and spans the width of a whole room.
It’s the second year Ciavarro and helper Alex Martens, 16, have brought the vintage train set, complete with a snowy village with tiny cars, shops and even a McDonald’s, to the church.
It’s open for parishioners and members of the public to visit every Sunday between services. There are two sets on display.
You could call it a sugarplum for the eyes for people of all ages, as the locomotive chugs in a circle through the snowy tunnel while lights from the town blink to the sound of the train. For younger guests, it’s a spectacle to behold.
“You can’t put a price on watching a kid stand there while his face lights up,” said Ciavarro.
For many older guests, it’s a journey back to a simpler time, he explained. The 51-year-old remembers unwrapping his first 1961 Lionel train set as a kid, and setting up the track around the family tree.
After it went into storage, it was decades before he decided to pull it back out to show his own children. This inspired him to start restoring antique toys as a hobby.
Before long, Ciavarro fell in love, and joined the Edgerton Model Railroad Club to meet others who shared his passion for “old stuff.” He later became president of the group and completed a number of major projects, including the Edgerton model railroad, which was shown in Rochester.
In 2008, Ciavarro went out on his own and has been working for private clients ever since. Part of his work has included the train set at the church, which has quickly become a popular attraction.
The whole project took 120 hours to complete, and another 20 to set up. But for a toy lover like Ciavarro, it’s a labor of love.
“I’m still just a big kid,” he said.
Courtesy: Fairport-ERPost.com, to see video of the display, click here.
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