Events ring in holidays

It's hard to imagine the holiday train display getting any bigger in the Montalbano family's two-car garage on Beard Street, but that's exactly what dad John promises to those who visit in December.

John and Cathy Montalbano and their daughter, Jaclyn, started the tradition five winters ago to honor neighbor Pam Greenwood and her successful fight against breast cancer.

The display includes a 3-foot-tall mountain Jaclyn built from plaster and porch screen; train tracks 10 feet above the garage floor; and a miniature drive-in that shows Christmas movies on a portable DVD player. A New York Mets subway train has the look and sounds of the real train making stops to the old Shea Stadium.

Admission is free, but visitors are asked to drop a contribution into a large jar for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the national foundation that funds research for breast cancer. The display has raised several thousand dollars.

The display at 20133 Beard St., off Interstate 77 Exit 28 and Catawba Avenue, will be open 7-10 p.m. Wednesday through Dec. 30, closed Dec. 24-25. Details are at

The family's display is among various holiday happenings across the region, from the annual Christmas celebrations this week in Cornelius and Davidson to Zootastic Park of Lake Norman's annual Christmas Wonderland in Troutman with a million Christmas lights.

The Zootastic display, off Interstate 77 Exit 42, is open 6-10 p.m. daily until Jan. 1 and includes a Western town with a petting zoo, pony rides, a candy shop and nightly visits by Santa. Details:

Christmas in Davidson features carriage rides, merchant booths and other offerings from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

In Concord, Charlotte Motor Speedway's Carolina Christmas is open nightly through Jan. 2, featuring more than a million Christmas lights and 500 displays. Details:

In Huntersville, Santa will appear at Birkdale Village on Saturday , meeting children and their families at 8:30 and 9:45 a.m. at Red Rocks Café, 8712 Lindholm, Drive. Details:

At Historic Latta Plantation, 5225 Sample Road in Huntersville, step into an 1820s Christmas from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday. Tour the plantation by candlelight, meet animals in the carriage barn, see dancing in the house and watch a Christmas meal being prepared. Details:

Want a parade?

Don't miss Saturday's 28th Annual North Mecklenburg Christmas Parade from 1 to 3 p.m., beginning in Davidson and traveling N.C. 115 to Mount Zion Church in Cornelius. Follow Santa from the parade to Cornelius Town Hall for the town's free holiday celebration.

On Dec 11, Kannapolis is the place to be for the city's Christmas parade at 6 p.m. featuring all-illuminated floats traveling Main Street, First Street and West Avenue.