The Trains at NorthPark Center Return Saturday

Since it started 34 years ago, the fundraiser has raised more than $14 million for the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas

NBCUniversal, Inc.

The Trains at NorthPark Center returned on Saturday, marking the start of the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas' biggest fundraiser of the year.

This year’s kid conductor, 8-year-old Izaiah Cantrell, waited for his cue to cut the ribbon and kick things off at the opening ceremony.

Ronald McDonald himself and NBC 5 anchor, Laura Harris helped spread joy.

The railcars rolled along the tracks with the familiar whistle and chug of the largest miniature train exhibit in Texas.

“They have truly become a family holiday tradition. This is the largest fundraiser that we have for the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas,” Ronald McDonald House Dallas CEO Jill Cumnock said.

Cumnock said ticket sales were down about 52% last year because of COVID-19 and crowd limitations in the exhibit.  

She said she hoped more people jump on board this year to help raise money for kids like Izaiah.

His family has stayed at the Ronald McDonald House as Izaiah healed for each of his 14 surgeries since he was 2 months old.

“Izaiah has had 14 surgeries. He had open-heart surgery at two months old and the House That Love Built gave us a place to stay and heal, and so we are very thankful for the house,” Izaiah's mom Esther Cantrell said.

Made up of more than 750 railcars, the trains go on a tour across America, from famous cities to familiar landmarks.

The exhibit runs through Jan. 2. 

You can check out the exhibit on the second level of NorthPark Center between Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus.

It's not too late to buy a railcar that will run on the tracks that you can keep. Or you can give your time -- volunteers are still needed to help with the exhibit.

NBC 5 is a sponsor of The Trains at NorthPark.

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