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Memorial Train Garden Honors Bel Air Boy

Now in its third year, Christopher's Memorial Train Garden is up and running at Bloom's Bloom Dairy between Thanksgiving and New Year's.

Four years ago the holiday season was cast in sadness for one Bel Air family.

Out of tragedy grew a garden—a train garden.

Just days after Thanksgiving 2007, Christopher Cooper, 15, died suddenly as a result of medical issues he'd been dealing with his entire life.

"Chris had a tremendous love of trains," said John Neuberger, Chris' uncle.

The family knew they wanted to do something to honor Chris' memory, and what started as trains in a garage developed into a large display to share with others.

"So just to honor his memory, Kim and Ray decided to build this garden," Neuberger said of Chris's parents.

In 2009, in Bel Air agreed to host the garden in a portable building on its property, and the trains have been there every year since.

Neuberger said his favorite thing about the train garden is seeing a child's face light up after walking through the door.

"That's the best part of it," Neuberger said, smiling.

The large display features hometown elements such as , the , sports field and Main Street businesses. This year, Ocean City, MD, was added to the display because Chris loved spending time there.

In the Ocean City scene there is also a representation of a bench in Chris' name. An actual bench dedicated to Chris' memory stands on 17th Street in Ocean City, Neuberger said.

Families from the Bel Air area and further away visit the train garden, especially on weekends when Santa stops by.

Kelly Czajkowski of Aberdeen brought her 1-year-old son, Ryan, to the train garden Thursday for the second time this year.

"He loved it the first time so we had to come back, we will probably be here many more times," Czajkowski said.

Christopher's Train Garden is open 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays between Nov. 25 through Jan. 1.

Diane Porter December 28, 2012 at 03:27 PM
My grand son visited the garden and would love to volunteer in the future. His name is Zachary Porter and loves trains as much as Christopher did. If you think he might be able to help, Please contact him at porteremail@verizon.net.

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