Anthony Incantalupo’s model train exhibit is open to the public to view Dec. 20-22, 7 to 9 p.m., at 1581 Cumberland Court East in Palm Harbor. Incantalupo also will have trains at Santa’s Polar Express at The Centre of Palm Harbor on Saturday, Dec. 14, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and 4 to 8 p.m.; and Sunday, Dec. 15, 1 to 5 p.m. Incantalupo has been displaying his trains to the public during the holiday season for four years in Palm Harbor. His father used to do the same thing when he was a child in New York.
PALM HARBOR – Santa’s Polar Express will make a stop at The Centre of Palm Harbor Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 14 and 15 at 1500 16th St.
The inaugural event – featuring model trains, miniature houses, crafts, photos with Santa and displays of lots of collectible toys – is a remake of The Centre’s Breakfast with Santa.
“Santa is already eating a lot of breakfast around Palm Harbor, so we’re giving him a break and just letting him come and hang out with the kids,” explained events manager Trish Harrison.
The Polar Express will be open before and after the parade on Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 to 8 p.m. as well as on Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m.
“We didn’t want to interfere with the parade,” Harrison said.
The event will give children and adults alike “a lot of stuff to look at” and “a lot of stuff to do,” she said. To start, attendees are encouraged to bring their cameras to capture family photos with Santa Claus or in a holiday photo booth.
“We’re not selling pictures with Santa, but Santa will be here available so you can take your own picture,” Harrison said.
The three Girl Scout troops that meet at the center will organize crafts for children.
And Palm Harbor resident Anthony Incantalupo is bringing his impressive collection of toys – worthy of display in the candy-cane-colored halls of Santa Claus himself.
“I’m going to bring as much as I need to fill the whole stage up,” Incantalupo said.
The display will include a large circle of trains, pulled by several different types of engines. Sixteen-foot tables complete with display lights will feature vintage, 6-inch Star Wars figures, classic G.I. Joe memorabilia and Star Trek toys. Incantalupo will bring his vintage Fisher Price castle and 2-inch knights as well as Barbie dolls and a large display of 8-inch Lord of the Rings figures.
“It’ll take me about three days to set everything up,” he said.
Incantalupo, 72, started collecting toys in the 1960s.
“It keeps my youth. I believe in that saying, ‘He who has the most toys, wins,’” he said.
Every year during the holidays, Incantalupo opens his garage so that local families can come see his display of 12 to 13 trains, toys and collectible figurines. He enthusiastically accepted the center’s invitation to join the Polar Express event.
“Toys and the holidays – that’s my thing,” he said.
His passion harkens back to his childhood, growing up in Long Island City, N.Y. Incantalupo served as a police officer in New York for 33 before moving to Florida, bringing his trains and collectibles with him. The pursuit is purely a hobby, which he shares by inviting neighbors to bring their malfunctioning train sets for repairs.
“We’ll sit down, fix it, get it running. A lot of people leave here very happy,” he said. “I don’t buy, I don’t sell; I don’t have any business. I just do it for the kids, for the people, for the holidays.”
He urged all Palm Harbor residents not to miss the displays at Santa’s Polar Express, even the “old people,” who can expect a nostalgic walk down memory lane.
“They’ll be able to be young again for a day,” he said.
Incantalupe lives at 1581 Cumberland Court E. To schedule an appointment, call 784-1873.