Families All Aboard For Holiday Model Train Display 

The Deemer family came up with the idea of sharing their passion for model trains with the Barnegat community. (Photo by Stephanie Faughnan)

  BARNEGAT – A premier holiday train display at the township’s recreation center is full steam ahead with hundreds already raving about the interactive experience.

  Justin Deemer and his wife, Jennifer, moved to Barnegat three years ago from Pennsylvania. The couple and their children became interested in model trains some time ago and learned that others shared their fascination.

  “I’ve had trains for about fourteen years,” said Justin. “I started buying them shortly after I met my wife. My father-in-law was into trains as was my oldest son. It was a way for us to bond together.”

  According to Justin, the family’s voluminous collection amounts to approximately a couple of thousand dollars. The excitement has included visiting auctions to search out different add-ons, as well as sharing a display of the family’s very own model trains looping around the tracks for others to enjoy.

Justin Deemer enjoys setting up the trains and has an entire set up with lights and realistic scenes. (Photo by Stephanie Faughnan)

  A veteran of the United States Air Force, Justin is now a professional firefighter and a training officer for four service-related fire departments. When Justin’s career found him spending time at the Navy base in Mechanicsburg PA, he set up the model train display there for residents and employees to have some fun.

  “It was a big hit there,” Justin shared. “The train set-up was centered around the tree-lighting ceremony and all of the associated activities.”

  When the world finally reopened after the pandemic, Justin and Jennifer decided it was a good time to bring their special treat to local residents. As much as the couple loved their new home, they both realized that families needed to travel as much as 45 minutes to find children’s activities.

  According to Justin, Recreation Director Jeanne Broadbent was thrilled with the suggestion of setting up the model train display. A board member of Barnegat Little League, Justin decided to speak with another Little League board member, Mike Polito about his idea.

  “When I told Mike what I was doing, I was surprised to find out he was an HO train enthusiast,” said Justin. “I asked him if he was willing to set up an HO train display and Mike said he’d absolutely love to do so.”

  Donations from 84 Lumber helped bring the concept even more to life as the two train lovers built separate displays across from one another.

Photo by Stephanie Faughnan

  Most of the O gauge trains displayed on Justin’s table started off as his, although a local couple donated some additional ones.

  HO scale trains are about half the size of O gauge model trains and generally the more common styles families run beneath their Christmas trees. The larger trains allow for a more extensive layout.

  Not surprisingly, it’s not just children who seem to enjoy both sets of trains as they weave around the tracks. New memories coupled with a sense of nostalgic wonder make the display one every family should consider taking in.

  Kathy and Joseph Marotta decided to visit the display with their grandson Kellen and raved about the trains.

Kathy and Joseph Marotta visited the display with their grandson Kellen. (Photo by Stephanie Faughnan)

  “My cousins all had trains under the tree when I was a kid,” Kathy smiled. “They were boys – I had a whole village under the tree, without trains.”

  While there’s no cost to visit the model train exhibit, donations are appreciated to benefit the Barnegat Little League. The final days and hours of operation are as follows: Tuesdays and Fridays, from 5:30-7:30 pm. And Saturday, 9:30-12:30 pm. The display ends on Christmas Eve.