Wine shop leaves up holiday train garden for boy with autism

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Pinehurst Wine Shoppe selling trains cars to benefit Pathfinders for Autism

Chances are most people have either already taken down their holiday decorations or are about to.

But there’s one holiday favorite that is staying up all year at a local liquor store, all to make a young boy happy.

The decorations are about to come down outside the Pinehurst Wine Shoppe in Baltimore, but inside a holiday favorite will stay on display up all year.

“A lot of work, but it’s here to stay,” Gordon McNamara, with the Pinehurst Wine Shoppe, said.

The G-scale train is called the Burke Express in honor of 11-year-old store regular, Burke Manual.

Burke, who has autism, has been coming to the store for years with his family, and would get sad when it came time to take down the annual train garden.

Burke would get so upset that the wine shop would sometimes keep it up until spring.

“It was a hard day for all of us because we knew that not only was the fun season over, but also the excitement of Burke coming in and doing what he does,” McNamara said.

Lisa Manuel, Burke’s mother, said it was always tough when the train garden was taken down each year.

“Our anxiety would kick in waiting for the day it would come down because we knew it would be hard for Burke,” Manuel said.

But the shop owners did not want it to be hard, so in October they installed the suspended track and a switch where Burke could turn it on and off. Now they are also selling train cars, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to Pathfinders for Autism.

“Take them home, paint them, put pictures and messages of kindness on them,” McNamara said. “Do whatever you want. Put them on the track and it will get pulled around all year long.”

Jason Manuel, Burke’s father, said his son could not be happier.

“He just loves these guys,” Jason Manuel said. “He loves the trains. He’s just so excited before and after.”

Chloe Manuel, Burke’s sister, agrees.

“I think that he might look hypnotized, because that’s all he really looks at, “Chloe said. “I think it makes him feel like excited.”

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