It was 20 years ago this month that Michael “The Train Man” Lavrich started sharing his model trains with delighted children—and adults—at the Downtown Bend Library. In the two decades since then, his annual display of model trains has become a highly anticipated holiday tradition for countless families in Central Oregon.
Children who first watched the trains run in 1999 may now have children of their own with whom they share this beloved display.
Lavrich is a former kindergarten teacher who’s well aware of children’s fascination with trains.
“They can sit there for hours, it’s amazing,” he says, “and they’re well behaved. When I see someone looking through the windows I can slow the train down, I can stop the train in front of someone that’s really interested”
While the public only sees the display once it’s all up and running, the set-up involves an intense amount of time and preparation.
“I pretty well dedicate December to this,” Lavrich says. “It’s a four day set-up and a four day take-down, and there are a few weeks on each end at home.”
All ages are invited to watch and listen as the trains run. Lavrich’s collection represents trains of the 1920s and ‘30s made by Lionel, Dorfan, Ives and American Flyer. Trains will run December 19-23; running times vary by day:
· December 19: 10:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.; 3:00–6:00 p.m.
· December 20: 10:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.; 3:00–5:45 p.m.
· December 21: noon–5:00 p.m.
· December 22: noon–4:30 p.m.
· December 23: 10:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.; 3:00–6:00 p.m.
People can watch the days of set-up condensed into a quick time-lapse video on the library’s YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/deschuteslibrary). Lavrich generously donates his time and collection to this popular annual event.