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LCCA's 43rd Annual Convention in Chattanooga TN - Recap

We just completed our very successful 43rd Annual LCCA convention July 15-20, 2013 at the historic Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel in Chattanooga TN. Thank you to all of the LCCA members, their families and the visitors who attended and participated in this fun, informative and Lionel train filled week.  Convention Manager Bob "Choo Choo" Carter, Tour Chairman Jerry Calkins, volunteer coordinator Sal Gambino and the entire volunteer, convention team worked endlessly to make this convention a great, fun and entertaining experience.

Our first 400 members who registered for the convention were pleasantly surprised when they each received a Lionel Lines, Limited Edition, LCCA Vulcan Switcher Engine and a Chattanooga Choo Choo animated billboard sign made by Miller Engineering exclusively for the LCCA conventioneers.  This was well worth the price of registration and our way of saying thank you for attending and participating in our annual convention.  We appreciate you being there!

President Dennis DeVito introduced the LCCA's first 100% Made in America Accessory, a new two sided billboard frame along with new exclusive LCCA billboards and LCCA Special Event pins at various events throughout the week.  In fact, one special LCCA billboard insert was given to each person who attended the Saturday evening banquet.   We sold out of these billboard frames at the convention, but stay tuned to the store section on our website for future additional offerings of this "100% Made In America" product.

LCCA Junior Member Coordinator Ms. Jen Kraus, Phyllis DeVito and Dinah Carter hosted special activities throughout the week for our JM's and family members in attendance.  Thank you parents and grandparents for bringing over 80 children to our convention.  We hope you all enjoyed yourselves.  After all, these youths are the future leaders of our club and this hobby.

We received a lot of great southern hospitality from the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel, Chattanooga's Convnetion Visitors Bureau, the bus tour staff, and the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History in Kennesaw GA.  LCCA member Gerald Jackson and his wife opened up their home to our members so they could enjoy their impressive home layout.  Thank you!

Our members very much enjoyed the free evening clinics offered on Monday and Wednesday evening.  On Monday, July 15, Dr Richard Banz  gave a "Stealing A General In Georgia" presentation, OGR's Ed Boyle's talked about Lionel's American Flyer Trains & the UP 50th Anniversary Train set.  On Wednesday evening July 17, Lionel's Tom Nuzzo and Mike Reagan gave a hands on demonstration about Lionel's Legacy command control system and their Customer Service operation in Canfield Ohio.  Roger Farkash of TW TrainWorx gave a demonstration and talk about layout scenery techniques.  Thank you Richard, Ed, Tom, Mike and Roger for making these LCCA Special Events so informative and fun.

A highlight for me was meeting Jett, Age 7 of the East Tennessee Make-A-Wish Foundation.  Jett was the honorary engineer during the opening ceremony of the magnificent operating Lionel layout.  An ABC Chattanooga Affiliate TV station WTVC-TV channel 9 was there to film this special event.  LCCA President Dennis DeVito and Lionel's J. Don Reece were on hand to give Jett and his family their first Norfolk and Southern Lionel starter train set. This Lionel Layout was designed and built for Lionel by LCCA member/new Director Roger Farkash of TW Design and TW TrainWorx of Dallas TX.

Another highlight for me was on Thursday 7-18-13 when we had six autistic children and their families from the Autistic Speaks organization who traveled in from the Chattanooga TN surrounding area to be the "Honorary Engineers" for the day.  They each took a turn with the Lionel Legacy Hand Held Command Control Units to run the Lionel trains on this spectacular Lionel Layout.  Lionel's J. Don Reece provide a private tour and demonstration of this Lionel layout, Lionel's static display, Lionel's new Thomas the Train LionChief remote controlled set-up, Lionel/LCCA FasTrack Modular Railroad, LCCA's Mini Layout, and TW TrainWorx's Lionel/LCCA FasTrack Modular Railroad.  Thank you Lionel and TW TrainWorx for bring these layouts for our conventioneers and guest to enjoy and experience the magic of Lionel trains on a first hand basis.  Kids of all ages were operating the trains on the conventional transformers, Lionel's LionChief Remote controllers, and Lionel's Legacy Command controllers all week long.

This year's Saturday July 20th, train show held in the Track 29 building onsite at the Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel was well attended by LCCA members and visitors from Chattanooga and the surrounding areas.  Over $615 of donations were collected at the door from the public and LCCA members.  This money was donated to benefit the local Erlanger hospital.  Over 100 LCCA members came from locations all around our country to Chattanooga to set up tables to buy, sell and trade toy trains.  Many good deals were reached. The LCCA/Lionel FasTrack Modular Rail Road layout was in full operation again this year.  TW TrainWorx made a second, additional Lionel/LCCA FasTrack Modular Layout and together both modular layouts made their public debut side by side creating a buzz of excitement with conventioneers and show attendees.

We had some success with getting media coverage throughout the week, starting with a Monday morning live TV broadcast at 5:30 AM on the local NBC station.   We also made the front page on the July 17 issue of the Chattanooga Times Free Press.  In addition, we had TV coverage from the local ABC and CBS Affiliate TV stations along with PPS.  Please see a portion of the media postings on our website. 2013 Convention Media Links.  

The club is also very proud to be involved with the pioneering Notch6 podcast.  Every evening during the convention, LCCA member Derek Thomas hosted a new  podcast with interviews and recaps of the convention daily events.   Lionel's Senior VP and General Manager, Howard Hitchcock, members of the Lionel Team, TW TrainWorx's Roger Farkash, OGR's Ed Boyle and Dr Richard Banz of the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History, and LCCA President Dennis DeVito all gave very informative and entertaining talks.  Go to to listen to these audio podcasts.  If you were not able to attend our convention in person this year, this is one way to experience a portion of our week-long event in Chattanooga.

LCCA Members and their families thoroughly enjoyed touring the local sights and attractions of Chattanooga and the surrounding areas all week long.  Our members who enjoy Lionel trains, Real trains, Civil War History and southern hospitality all had a great time during our convention. We thank you for your attendance and participation.  We hope you had FUN!!

Stay tuned to the LCCA's website for additional convention recap and upcoming Special Events information.  We will be posting convention recap information with photos soon.

We hope to see you all again at an upcoming LCCA Special Event and our 44th Annual LCCA Convention to be held next year at the East Indianapolis Marriott Hotel in Indianapolis IN July 20-26, 2014.

Thank you again!

Al Kolis
President Elect & Special Events Manager Lionel Collectors Club of America