There was a common denominator between the hundreds of people who came to Saturday’s opening day of the Carolina Coastal Railroaders show and the trains they came to see — both were all ages and sizes.
The 16th annual show, which continues today at New Bern High, featured a lobby full of vendors with any possible train or accessory. Inside the gym, there were 10 layouts — complete with detailed miniature scenery — and trains of varying sizes and historic reference.
Nic and Juanita Nicastro come from Newport to the show each year and walk away with memories and bags of trains and parts.
“I’m a collector, an operator and an accumulator,” he said of his own home layout, which measures more than 13 by 19 feet, with three different train “yards.”
He had trains as a child and when the couple started a family in the early 1970s, they wanted trains for the children.
He saw a want ad for trains for sale, so he bought six two-foot-square boxes. The Nicastros were off and running as collectors.
“It’s a toy,” he said of trains. “And I’m just a bigger kid.”
Juanita said that while collecting trains that date to the 1900s, it had given her a sense of watching changes in the way American manufacturing has changed over the years in production and materials, from tin to injection plastics.
Allison Stusse of Havelock brought her sons Noah, Henry and George — ages 2 to nearly 6 — because “They love trains. They have trains, too many trains.”
The Stusse brothers are still in the early stages of train love, with wooden trains that they have to push around the tracks.
“But, they build new track every day,” said their mother, as the three boys pointed and intently watched larger motorized miniatures in front of them at the Garden Railway Society’s layout.