Richardson Man Closes Backyard Holiday Train

A Richardson man has decided to shut down his backyard "Holiday Express Riding Train" after 13 years.

Joel 'The Trainman' Occhiuzzo, 81, has had an elaborate train track and light display in his backyard every year since 2001.

"This is just something I did in my retirement," Occhiuzzo said. "I figured I wanted to do something for kids."

Every night, between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, Occhiuzzo has offered nightly free rides for children and their parents between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.

"It's a legend in Richardson," said Robyn Garrett, who had heard about the train years ago and brought her family for the first time Thursday night.

Occhiuzzo plans to shut down the train and sell everything off after the New Year because his homeowner's insurance company dropped him, he said, because of the liability the train presents.

"The insurance company has put me out," Occhiuzzo said about the decision to shut down. "They've just ripped my head right off. It's sort of like that old saying, 'The straw that broke the camel's back.' That's about it."

Beyond Occhiuzzo's Holiday Express Riding Train website and Facebook page, Occhiuzzo does not advertise or promote his display.  

Yet, every night hundreds of families find their way to his home on the 100 block of Hidden Circle in Richardson.

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