VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — For the next nine days the sounds of model trains “clickity-clacking” may only be drowned out by a child’s joyful squeal inside the gymnasium at Avalon Church of Christ.

The Tidewater Big Train Operators’ annual holiday show kicks off Friday evening and runs through December 10.

This year, the club has set up seven different holiday-themed train gardens, each with its own twist.

New this year, one display will pay homage to the Dr. Seuss story “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

“It’s the 65th anniversary of the Grinch and we thought it would be a great opportunity to showcase that,” Susan Harris said.

Harris along with her husband Hillie built the entire display from scratch in over a month’s time.

Susan Harris said much of what can be seen was made out of materials she said were purchased from a local business: Dollar Tree.

“She was up until 2 a.m. some days,” Hillie Harris said.

This year the theme of the entire show is “Honoring Educators.”

“They are part of the foundation that made us who we are today. We know they have dedicated their lives for the betterment of ours,” Tal Piland, President of the club, said.

Aside from watching 20 model trains maneuver through different scenes, Piland said those brave enough can participate in a scavenger hunt, looking for different items around the layouts. Santa Claus will also be at the show at various times according to Piland.

“If you miss him, you can drop off a letter addressed to Santa and if you leave your phone number, he will call you back,” Piland said.

You can also enter for a raffle to win a G Scale Train set so you can put a train under your own tree.

The cost of the show is free however donations will be accepted. The youth group of Avalon Church of Christ will also be selling concessions.


Avalon Church of Christ, 844 Woodstock Rd. Virginia Beach, VA 23464

  • Friday, Dec. 2, 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, Dec. 3, 10:00 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, Dec. 4, 1:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
  • Monday, Dec. 5 – Thursday, Dec. 8, 5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
  • Friday, Dec. 9, 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, Dec. 10, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.