Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Events

It's time for H&R's semiannual model train show

PINELLAS PARK

In a twist of fate, it was the polio scare of the 1950s that started Alice Morris' lifelong love affair with model trains. When she and her classmates were forced to stay indoors for fear of catching the disease, her school provided a model train set to play with during recess.

"Everyone went home and asked for a train that Christmas," Morris said. "The hobby shop did very well that year."

Ever since, Morris, 73, has devoted her life to model trains and introducing the hobby to new generations.

This Friday through Sunday, her store, H&R Trains in Pinellas Park, will hold its 66th semiannual train show.

The shows have drawn thousands to the shop at 6901 U.S. 19 N, with cars lining the block and filling a parking lot behind the neighboring Rooms to Go furniture store.

The event is held underneath a large white tent behind the store and includes a model train contest, downhill train racing and wooden train painting for kids, all free.

Clinics are also available with topics including LED lighting, scenery building and tips for becoming a better modeler.

The contest, the show's main attraction, brings together a large variety of enthusiasts.

Judges award ribbons and gift certificates to the top-scoring displays across a wide variety of categories, including age of competitor and the size of the train. Judges consider each entrant's quality of workmanship, imagination and creativity. The most coveted prize is Best in Show, given to the display that judges score highest.

Anyone may enter. Applications are available at H&R Trains.

Morris began hosting these shows almost 40 years ago, when she owned a much smaller store in St. Petersburg.

"One of my customers said, 'You know, we don't get to go to these people's houses to see their layouts, so why not bring them here and have a competition?' " Morris said.

After the success of her first train show, Morris began going to model train conventions and teaching others her methods of organizing a show so they could replicate the events elsewhere.

Last year, the Hobby Manufacturers Association presented Morris with a Distinguished Service Award for her dedication to the model railroad industry.

About a year ago, Morris announced that she plans to sell her business to begin her retirement with her husband. But finding the right buyer is proving tricky.

"We are trying to find the right person," Morris said. "A younger person with a passion for trains who will move the business forward."

Morris believes the future of model trains will be heavily tied to new technology and hopes to find a new owner who could market the business using social media and appeal to younger generations.

Until she finds the right buyer, Morris will continue to run H&R Trains and host free shows twice a year. She finds great satisfaction in bringing the hobby to additional people, both young and old.

"There are people that need hobbies," Morris said. "It helps keep their sanity."

Comments
Where to find kid-friendly, not-so-scary Halloween fun

Where to find kid-friendly, not-so-scary Halloween fun

Spare the gore and take the kids to these family-friendly Halloween parties planned at theme parks and attractions in the coming weeks.Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Times staff writerCreatures of the Night at ZooTampa The weekend nighttime Halloween party at...
Published: 09/18/18
Christopher Lloyd cancels MegaCon Tampa Bay appearance this weekend

Christopher Lloyd cancels MegaCon Tampa Bay appearance this weekend

Sorry, Back to the Future and Taxi fans, actor Christopher Lloyd has canceled his appearance this weekend at MegaCon Tampa Bay, the celebrity-studded fan fest at the Tampa Convention Center.Blame the space-time continuum. On Friday MegaCon’s announce...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sept. 18

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sept. 18

Chicago: The Tony-Award winning musical opens today through Sunday with great dance numbers and All that Jazz. Part of the Straz’s Broadway series. 7:30 p.m., Carol Morsani Hall at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tamp...
Published: 09/17/18
Actor in Busch Gardens' Howl-O-Scream commercial projectile vomits on SheiKra and it's no act

Actor in Busch Gardens' Howl-O-Scream commercial projectile vomits on SheiKra and it's no act

One of the most popular features of Busch Gardens’ Howl-O-Scream, the annual scarefest that opens next Friday, is that you never know when a ghoul will show up next to you on the roller coasters. Some will even be on the trams that run from the...
Published: 09/14/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sunday, Sept. 16

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sunday, Sept. 16

Nick Cannon Presents Wild ‘n’ Out Live: The hugely successful TV series created and hosted by Nick Cannon is on its first full length tour featuring stand up performances by fan favorite cast members, live interaction with the audience pa...
Published: 09/14/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Saturday, Sept. 15

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Saturday, Sept. 15

Dierks Bentley: Country singer-songwriter will perform on his Mountain High Tour with special guest Brothers Osbourne and LANCO. 7 p.m., MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. $31-$90.75. (813) 740-2446.Freestyle Explosion with...
Published: 09/14/18
Review: Ben Montgomery’s ‘Man Who Walked Backward’ lets readers step into history

Review: Ben Montgomery’s ‘Man Who Walked Backward’ lets readers step into history

Did Plennie Wingo make any progress going backward?That’s the question at the heart of The Man Who Walked Backward: An American Dreamer’s Search for Meaning in the Great Depression, an engaging new book by former Tampa Bay Times staff writer Ben Mont...
Published: 09/13/18
Updated: 09/14/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Friday, Sept. 14

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Friday, Sept. 14

Scorpions: One of the most influential rock bands of all time were part of the first wave of metal in the 1970s, and by the ‘80s amassed a string of chart toppers including Rock You Like a Hurricane and No One Like You. 8 p.m., Amalie Arena, 401 Chan...
Published: 09/13/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of Sept. 17-23

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of Sept. 17-23

MegaCon Tampa Bay: The multigenre convention brings a lineup of celebrity guests and comic book creators to the Tampa Convention Center Friday-Sunday, with hundreds of vendors selling art, toys and memorabilia; panels and paid photo-ops. Celebrities ...
Published: 09/12/18
Updated: 09/16/18
Top things to do this weekend: Nick Cannon's Wild'N Out Live, Halloween Horror Nights opens and more

Top things to do this weekend: Nick Cannon's Wild'N Out Live, Halloween Horror Nights opens and more

The top things to do this weekend in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater and beyond.
Published: 09/14/18