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cheap louboutin shoes But as modern day persists, enjoying the simplicity of an old-time steam locomotive ride (opposed to the daily work commute on a high-speed passenger train) has evolved into a specialized tourist experience. For most people nowadays, travel is an obligation with a focus on the fastest route possible. Time is passed drowning out the surrounding world with wireless devices and the ability to stay plugged in 24/7. But the magic of railroad nostalgia isn’t lost on the Bay Area Garden Railroad Society and the South County Railroaders, who still find joy in human connection through a love of locomotives. Last Saturday, the 19th Annual Garden Railroad Tour was held with the purpose of promoting community awareness of hunger issues in the low-income community, in addition to supporting the local garden railroaders. “It was a very successful one. Everybody had a lot of fun and there were a lot of families. A lot of kids came, and of course their eyes always get as big as saucers,” chuckled the event’s point person, Dale McAnally. The 68-year-old Gilroyan says the event was the brainchild of railroad model enthusiasts who spent time at the former All Aboard Junction, which used to be located on the corner of Monterey Road and Welburn Avenue. “We were all Garden Railroaders sitting around the train store one day, and said, ‘we’re open anyway ... we might as well do some good, too,” McAnally recalled. The event, which in its first year had roughly seven hosts and 100 guests, has since raised thousands of dollars for local charities. McAnally said each year the group donates food and cash, which is split between St. Joseph's Family Center in Gilroy and Community Pantry in Hollister to buy essential perishable food such as eggs and milk. The roughly ,900 in monetary donations this year were slightly down from 2012 according to McAnally, who cheerfully added that “everybody seem to have a lot of fun.” He estimated the event garnered about ,000 in food donations. St. Joseph’s Executive Director David Cox was brimming with thankfulness in the days following the event. “When money comes in that we didn’t have to ask for, when we don’t have to work for it, it’s just wonderful. That kind of donation that comes from the heart and is unsolicited, is beautiful,” Cox said. St. Joseph’s plans to use the money to buy perishable food items that aren’t commonly donated, such as meat, dairy and produce. Throughout the event Saturday, members in Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Hollister, Prunedale, Watsonville and Santa Cruz showcased miniature, meticulous and lively interpretations of fantasy railroad worlds – each sporting the personal twist of its creator’s personality and imagination. Donation areas were set up at each of the 11 total stops, allowing visitors to contribute non-perishable foods or money in exchange for a full day's entertainment. Some hosts saw a couple hundred visitors pass through their property, while a couple other railroaders estimated roughly 400 patrons. “When I was young, trains brought people together that no transportation can today,” noted Morgan Hill railroader Mark Grzan, the creator of a magnificent 187-foot garden railway called Pondosa Alamo Western. A testament to that observation is the solid friendship that Grzan, 62, has developed through the yearly tour with fellow railroad enthusiast Bruce Walton, 78. Walton and Grzan have been setting up model trains together for 19 years, sharing the same track space. “Every time I do this, he is right beside me,” Grzan said. “I consider him a great friend.” Grzan’s railroad wonderland is whimsical and intricate, right down to the hand-selected dwarf Alberta spruce trees lining the pathways around the tracks, which cut through miniature worlds with varying scenes, such as Snow White and the seven dwarfs or a man mowing a lawn surrounded by cheerful sunflowers. The model railroads such as Grzan’s channel an era when traveling took days, weeks or months. Trains were once hotels on wheels where passengers ate, slept, chatted, formed new acquaintances and had the chance to soak in the outside environment as the train chugged through mountain tops or vast green forests. Another fun stop on the tour included the Gilroy home of Dave and Peggy Hartwig in Gilroy, who invited visitors into their home with hospitality and a refreshing glass of lemonade. Dave, 67, a model builder, created Hilary Logging, Lumber Mining Company – an impressive representation of “turn of the century logging” that blends nostalgia and creative expression. The Hartwig’s model demonstrates how the tour is not only about trains, but also the history of production and industry that locomotives play such a significant role in. Peggy, 67, is in charge of the model landscape surrounding the logging operation. She loves to see the joy the tour brings to families, especially “the little ones.” Peggy loves “seeing them grow each year.” Like Grzan and the Hartwigs, each host exhibited a passion and appreciation for trains, and it showed through the injection of detail and care poured into every aspect. When asked about the longevity of the tour that showcases local skill and a dedication to giving back to the community, McAnally said he hopes to see the event choo-choo far into the future. As long as he’s able to help make it happen, along with the help and effort of his fellow Garden Railroaders, “I’m glad to,” McAnally said. For more information, contact Dale McAnally by phone at (408) 848-1440 or email at .