Wall model train collector holds open house to view collection

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A Monmouth County man has taken his passion for model trains to a whole new level, and he wants to share it with the public.

"It started at my first Christmas. I was 8 months old and received my first Lionel train set…Christmas morning,” says Salvatore Soldano.

Soldano’s passion for trains continued into his adulthood and he amassed a meticulous collection of model trains. He has now opened his collection to the public last weekend after his set was featured in a popular collector's magazine.

“We are making a whole bunch of kids happy,” he says. “When the typical kids come in, they love it. The special-needs kids have buttons to press around the layout to make things happen."

Soldano says that children with special needs often make an instant connection with the trains when they make things happen on the set.

Soldano’s collection has more than 1,200 trains. Family friend Carl Parcesepe, 13, helps Soldano maintain the trains.

“I walked up the stairs and saw this and was like ‘What am I seeing?’ It was just really cool because I’ve never seen anything like it before. It was like a huge toy land,” Parcesepe says.

Soldano says that he plans to hold a second open house Saturday and he wants other train collectors to follow his lead.

“Encourage them to open it up to disabled people like Wounded Warriors, their kids, special needs, anybody who wants to embrace the Christmas spirit,” Soldano says.

Soldano says that he may expand the amount of open houses he holds next year.

The open house is free to the public, but donations go to Wounded Warriors and Autism Speaks. More information can be found at Soldano’s website, salstrains.com.

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