Model train landscape features historic Queens icons

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Photo gallery

A model depicts the Church of Saint Mel in Whitestone. Photo by Christina Santucci
Train display creator Danny Naimoli stands with St. Mel's pastor, the Rev. Gerard Sauer, near a model of St. Mel's. Photo by Christina Santucci
Jennifer Camacho holds Oliver Lavarone, 6 months, as a train passes by a model of Yankee Stadium. Photo by Christina Santucci
Whitestone resident Fallon O'Brien, 22 months, enjoys the holiday train display created at St. Mel's School by Danny Naimoli, who says proceeds will go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Photo by Christina Santucci
Rae Costa and her son James take a closer look at the display. Photo by Christina Santucci
Santa is surrounded by elves and a reindeer. Photo by Christina Santucci
St. Luke's in Whitestone is depicted. Photo by Christina Santucci
A model of the Queens Botanical Garden is a new addition. Photo by Christina Santucci
The Brooklyn Bridge is featured in the display. Photo by Christina Santucci
Oliver Lavarone spends time with Santa - Thomas Amalfitano from the Knights of Columbus. Photo by Christina Santucci
Lia Costa, 2 1/2, takes a rest at the show. Photo by Christina Santucci
James Costa, 4 1/2, poses for the camera. Photo by Christina Santucci
The display, which includes a model of St. Luke's Church in Whitestone, takes up an entire room. Photo by Christina Santucci
Lia Costa, 2 1/2, snacks on popcorn as she watches the trains. Photo by Christina Santucci

Captivated children and curious adults got to see landmarks from all over the city last week without having to leave Whitestone.

Dan Naimoli, a landscape architect from the neighborhood, unveiled a miniature version of St. Mels School in Flushing, St. Luke’s in Whitestone, Yankee Stadium, the Brooklyn Bridge and even the completed Freedom Tower at his third annual model train exhibit, which was held in the basement of the actual St. Mels, at 154-24 26th Ave.

“I enjoy taking nothing and making something,” said Naimoli, who with the help of two others also built a mini replica of Nonna’s Pizzeria in Whitestone, a building in the Queens Botanical Garden and several aesthetically pleasing homes from Park Slope.

Naimoli said he is a fan of architecture and takes photos of buildings he likes for inspiration to recreate them in miniature from using foamboard and sometimes a bamboo plywood called Plyboo.

The exhibit featured four trains on four tracks that wound through the structures, verdant hillsides and over tiny bodies of water. Naimoli had almost completed versions of the Throgs Neck and Whitestone bridges, but they were not ready in time for the show.

After Naimoli covered some expenses, the admission fee of $10 per adult and $5 for children older than 2 went toward the Make a Wish Foundation, a national charity that specializes in granting the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.

Next year, Naimoli plans to make it bigger and better, with 15 more buildings added to the mix. He will begin going out and taking photos and then drawing up blueprints sometime in 2012.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 1:59 am, December 26, 2011
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