The annual Rotary Lights display in La Crosse begins next week, and setup has been underway for about a month. Tonight, Fox 25/48’s Erin O’Brien takes us behind the scenes of the model train display, a popular attraction for all ages.
Inside Santa’s house at the Rotary Lights you’ll find a barbershop, a bonfire, and a burning home. It’s all part of the model train display.
The man behind it all is John Corems. Originally from Slovenia, he now lives in Sparta, and has built the train display for the Rotary Lights for four years.
“I was a member of the train club in Sparta and they sent us a letter to see if we were interested in building something for the kids.”
Each year, the display gets more complicated and intricate. It’s a long sequence of events. With a volcano, a thunderstorm, and even firefighters to save that burning home. And everything is carefully coordinated to happen at just the right moment.
“Before the train comes around, it’s going to turn green, and when the train passes by it’s going to turn red.”
To make everything run at the right time, he uses the same computer program used for the animated light displays in the park. John says the most complicated part is keeping all these wires straight. There are actually 47 transformers under the train display.
And he’s always thinking of new things to add for next year.
“I just sit down in bed and think of what is next and I just get it one by one.”
For John the best part is seeing the happiness it brings to children.
“I’m most happy when I see kids come here, then I’m happy as can be. There are kids who don’t want to see Santa, they say I don’t want to see Santa I want to stay here.”
In La Crosse, Erin O’Brien Fox 25 48 News at 9.