ELKHART — On Wednesday, The National New York Central Railroad Museum hopes to hitch a ride with ArtWalk.
Months ago, as representatives of Downtown Elkhart Inc. and others began planning the fourth ArtWalk of the year, they decided to shift children’s activities that are normally held at the Civic Plaza to the museum at 721 S. Main St.
In addition to an ornament-making craft event for kids, the museum will host numerous other activities including a toy drive and a Christmas-themed movie on a 14-foot wide screen from the old Elco Theatre.
But just as importantly, the spotlight represents a great chance for the city to showcase the museum’s numerous displays that span nearly 6,000 square feet of space amid four train cars and a series of attached authentic freight houses. On top of that, there’s the old stream engine and the diesel engine that visitors can see up close.
“This museum is a lot bigger than most people think,” said Robin Hume, museum coordinator. “Many just think it’s the railroad cars.”
Involvement with ArtWalk from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 11, might be one of the biggest and best marketing opportunities the museum has had since it opened in 1987, Hume said.
Among the things going on Wednesday:
Start with some chocolate treats courtesy of Tavernier’s Chocolate Co., and stay warm with hot cocoa, coffee or cider. Refreshments will be in the dinning car.
Toys for Tots will host a “giving station” at the museum. Church Community Services will have a food pantry collection station and wool mittens will be sold as part of the Soup of Success “Mittens on a Mission” project that benefits programs at CCS.
The movie “The Polar Express” will be featured at 6 p.m.
Visitors will have a chance to register for four round trip tickets on Amtrak from Elkhart to Chicago.
Among the many exhibits, five o-gauge trains will be chugging around a massive model train display.
The museum routinely attracts visitors from across the United States and from abroad and provides a great insight into Elkhart’s past, including details about the nearby railroad yard that was at one time among the biggest in the United States.
Admission to the museum during ArtWalk will be free.
“We want more people to understand what we have here,” Hume said. “It’s so much fun for kids and at the same time, they’re learning about history — not just of the railroads — but also the history of Elkhart.”
ArtWalk will also feature lots of opportunities to shop for holiday art and enjoy the talents of some local musicians along the shops located on South Main Street north of the museum. Officials are hoping people park at or near the museum and start their ArtWalk experience there and then check out the many stores and exhibits.
About 19 artists and six entertainers, including Adrienne Frailey at the museum, are expected to participate Wednesday. Outdoor entertainers will have fire barrels nearby to help stay warm.
ArtWalk’s studios, previously at 503 S. Main St., will be temporarily held at 224 S. Main St., the home of a new store, The Black Crow.
Voting for favorite artists will be done at the museum and at The Black Crow, said Steve Gruber, a spokesperson for DEI.