By Alyse Horn
The Old Allegheny Victorian Christmas House Tour may be sold out for this year, but visitors can still purchase items from The Holiday Shoppe and tour the famous Toy Train Museum.
The Toy Train Museum, 719 Brighton Ave., houses the largest toy train collection in the world. The train tours run on Friday from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday from 12:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tickets are still available for $10 each and can be purchased online or at the museum, but it is encouraged to buy the tickets in advance to ensure a spot on the tour.
Owner John DeSantis said he has been collecting toy trains since he was 2 years old, and his collection is only open to the public once a year during this tour. His home is also the last stop on the Victorian Christmas House Tour, and has been for 22 years.
“You couldn’t ask for a better way to meet thousands of strangers in your home,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis has over 8,000 trains on display that take up the top two floors of his house, and said about 60 people can view the collection at one time. Train conductors will be standing around the museum to answer any questions, and even though children are scarce on the house tour, kids are more than welcome at The Toy Train Museum.
The Holiday Shoppe that is included on the Old Allegheny Victorian Christmas House Tour is also open to the public. The shop will be located in the basement of Calvary United Methodist Church, 954 Beech Ave.
Martin Fuess from Calvary United Methodist Church said there will be 14 vendors at the holiday shop selling a plethora of items including antiques, collectibles, jewelry, holiday décor, artwork and a variety of hand-made artisan gifts.
“We have a wonderful array of seasoned vendors with beautiful items to make your home and holiday all the more special,” Fuess said.
The shop hours on Friday, December 13, are 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and on Saturday, December 14, 10 a.m. to
8 p.m. Fuess said that evening hours may be extended if the public demand warrants it.
Those who were hoping to go on the house tour this year and missed out on purchasing tickets should plan ahead to get tickets for next year’s tour.
Carole Malakoff, the Ways and Means Chairman and Tour Coordinator, said that tickets for the Victorian Christmas House Tour went on sale online at the beginning of October and virtually all tickets were sold out by November 1, with over 1,700 tickets being sold.
Malakoff said the tours have always been fruitful, but this year the tours have been overwhelmingly successful.
The Old Allegheny Victorian Christmas House Tour was started 32 years ago by a group of neighbors. The first tour had such a powerful debut that “there were people lined up around the church to go out on tour,” Malakoff said.
Over the years, the tour has become more organized by adding a time schedule for groups leaving Calvary United Methodist Church and also by making different experiences available during the tour.
This year, a brunch and lunch option was available that included a meal before the tour in a home separate from the tour.
It takes about three hours to visit the six homes on the tour, with groups leaving the church every 12 minutes with a tour guide.
Malakoff said houses are chosen by a combination of who is willing to open their home for the tour and how often their house has been featured on the tour, because people return year after year.
This year, people as far as Maryland and Ohio are making the trip to experience the house tour, Malakoff said.
More information on the Old Allegheny Victorian Christmas House Tour, The Holiday Shoppe and The Toy Train Museum can be found at www.alleghenywest.org.