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A Family-friendly Organization of Hobbyists Looks to Illinois for Fun, Frie


Lionel® Collectors Club of America

Media Contact for LCCA:
Mike Mottler
Conway, AR

Posted June 11, 2007
Date of the Event: July 22-28, 2007
For Immediate Release for Use at your Discretion

NOTE: Reporters and photographers in media organizations are welcome at the LCCA convention site at any time. Media-savvy LCCA officers will be available to reporters and editors as interviewees by phone in advance of the event and during the week of the convention at the hotel site.
The LCCA website contains News Briefs, News Releases, and sample high-res photos about the convention. To download these materials, click on the large NEWS & INFO button on the main page, then select NEWS MEDIA CENTER. (Chicago) The members of the Lionel Collectors Club of America (LCCA) are not ashamed to admit they still play with trains. Most of them are adult men who vividly and lovingly remember electric toy trains from their boyhood, and many still own their first Lionel train set as a treasured Christmas present.

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Club member Stan Roy and his grandchildren enjoy the train hobby through the automated layout he designed and built in the basement of his suburban Chicago home.
According to LCCA President, Lou Caponi, “Most of our 8,000-plus members are mature men over 45 with spouses and families that understand “Toy Train Fever” and cut them some slack; rather, track.”

During the final week of July [22–28] 2007, about 1,200 club members and their families will travel to Illinois and participate in the LCCA annual convention. The event will be based at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Chicago O’Hare in Rosemont, IL. Convention-goers will visit train-related attractions in the Windy City, ride aboard three real trains at several locations in the area, and participate in a busy schedule of social and hobby activities.

Some members include traveling to and from the convention via Amtrak as a part of a train-related family vacation. Caponi said, “Many parents realize toy trains encourage creativity, develop useful skills, and stimulate the imagination. The hobby is a positive alternative to violent videos and first-person-shooter games based on a storyline of mayhem and murder.”

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This fully scenicked, custom-made Christmas-theme train layout was made for Lionel LLC. The company will ship the layout to Chicago for demonstration during the LCCA convention at the atrium of the host hotel in Rosemont, IL. This impressive layout is displayed during the holiday season at the museum within Grand Central Terminal in New York City.
Train Layout in Operation
Lionel will ship its impressive display layout from New York City and set it up in the lobby of the host hotel for enjoyment of convention-goers and visitors. This 12x40-feet train layout will be in operation in the lobby of the host hotel site beginning Wednesday afternoon at 5 p.m. (July 25) and continuing through Saturday afternoon (July 28). The public is invited to see it in action at no charge.

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At the train show within the host hotel of the convention, a hobbyist scrutinizes a Lionel Auto Carrier Car and ponders a possible purchase. More than 200 tables of train products will be presented for sale in the Trading Hall.
Train Show
The traditional finale of the convention will be the train show held all day on Saturday, July 28. Train vendors and dealers will set up displays on more than 200 tables with Lionel and Lionel-compatible trains and accessories for sale, including hard-to-find items and train parts. This event will be open to the public, and kids under 18 will be admitted free when accompanied by an adult paying $5 admission.

Freebie Appraisals
Persons may bring their O- and S-gauge electric toy trains to the host hotel site during the week of the convention for free, unbiased appraisals by qualified toy train experts. Owners of vintage Lionel, American Flyer, Ives, Bing, and Dorfan toy trains can expect a professional assessment based on condition and rarity in accordance with current train hobby standards and market values. However, LCCA doesn’t appraise smaller HO scale; N- or Z-gauge trains because its expertise is limited to Lionel-compatible trains.

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Convention participants will ride the trolleys at the Fox River Valley Trolley Museum on a day trip outing.
Train Excursions and Adventures
Members will tour the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, IL, and ride a restored vintage diesel passenger train and historical commuter rail equipment. Other real train adventures include a day trip to the Fox River Trolley Museum for rides on vintage electric interurban cars and trolleys and a narrated ride through the Loop on a CTA “L” train. Other train-related activities include a visit to the huge train layout in the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, a tour of the Ogilvy Transportation Museum at Union Station, and a trip to the Chicago Botanical Gardens with outdoor “garden railroad” trains in action in a 7,500 square feet garden area.

A Family Event
“Attending the convention is a major benefit of club membership, and many LCCA members plan their family summer vacation around this annual event,” said John Fisher, LCCA Convention Manager. Family-friendly social activities of the convention will include a get acquainted party on Thursday evening with music by Fast Eddie and the Corvettes and a reception and banquet on Saturday evening as the finale of the convention.

President of Lionel Scheduled to Appear
Members will hear current news about the toy train industry from Jerry Calabrese, President and CEO of Lionel LLC, on Friday afternoon of convention week. The company is an America icon in the hobby industry, the leading manufacturer of electric toy trains today, and an innovator of a new generation, hand-held radio remote command control system for toy trains. Calabrese will also preside over a Q&A session with club members and show new products, including the prototype of the Hogwart Express, the train in the Harry Potter movies.

A Unique Memento
Members look forward to the convention for many reasons, one of which will be the unveiling of the 2007 on-site car – a unique, limited-edition collectible created exclusively for club members by LCCA This car can only be purchased by members who attend the convention in person, so it becomes an instant rarity because the production run is limited.

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LCCA volunteer Al Kolis coaches a young hospital patient how to operate a THOMAS AND HIS FRIENDS train set made by Lionel. The nurses at this hospital realize that a day with trains is a day-brightener for their cancer patients, and parents appreciate these visits by hobby ambassadors.
Leave Something Behind
LCCA volunteers will present “Train Time,” a hands-on play event for kids who are also patients at a Children’s Hospital in the Chicago area. LCCA members believe good fun is good medicine, and they will show young patients how to operate toy trains from the PBS TV series, “Thomas and His Friends.” The temporary train layout will be accessible to children “attached” to roll-around IV stands or in wheelchairs In recognition for learning and using the whistle codes, each kid/patient will receive a personalized Whistle Blower certificate, a paper engineer’s hat, and a red bandana neckerchief. The club will donate a train set to the hospital for use in its Child Life Program.

LCCA Resource Persons as Interviewees

Spokesperson: Lou Caponi, President
484-431-8529 (cell)
Springfield, PA
E-mail: or
Convention Details: John Fisher, Convention Manager
612-804-4241 (cell)
St. Paul, MN
Eric Fogg, Convention Co-manager
515-240-9078 (cell)
Des Moines, IA