Joel Berse watched as dozens of faces crowded around the plexiglass walls surrounding the model train village on the table in front of him.
Berse’s custom-made plastic village hummed and buzzed with activity, with several N-gauge trains looping and whirring through tunnels and around restaurants.
More than 600 Long Islanders packed into the Hicksville Community Center Sunday for the Trainville Hobby Depot Hurricane Relief Model Train Show. The charity show acted as a way for local model train enthusiasts to enjoy their hobby while giving back to the American Red Cross.
“I wanted to put on the show because I wanted to try and help in the wake of the storm,” said Berse, owner of Trainville Hobby Depot in Hicksville.
Berse said many of his friends along the South Shore were left devastated in the wake of superstorm Sandy.
“I felt very lucky that myself and my own home got a minimum amount of damage,” he said.
Berse organized the show in place of the 23rd annual Freeport Train Show, which had been scheduled for the same day at the Freeport Recreation Center. The show had to be canceled due to FEMA’s continued occupation of the recreation center in the wake of Sandy.
The Hicksville show featured model trains from several local train clubs, with trains on display ranging from the larger O-gauge models down to tiny Z-gauge train sets. Guests were encouraged to donate $4 a person for adults and $2 for children, with several train sets being raffled off for charity.
Attendees were able to see the trains winding through model towns set up throughout the community center, each of which had been constructed by local hobby shops and model train clubs.
When organizing the train show, Berse expected to raise about $1,000 for the Red Cross. By the end of the afternoon, attendees had donated more than $2,800.
“I think it’s a fun event and a great way to raise money,” said Stefanie Lukasik, 29, of Freeport, who came to the show with her 5-year-old son, John. “It’s for people of all ages to enjoy.”
Above: Alex Goodenough, 6, of Farmingdale watches as a model train drives past him at the Hurricane Relief Model Train Show at the Hicksville Community Center. (Jan 13, 2013)