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Union Station, Washington D.C.This Saturday, May 7, hundreds of train-themed events will be engineered across the U.S. in celebration of National Train Day. The festival’s lineup of railroad memorabilia exhibits and historic car displays is more than enough to lure train fanatics of all shapes and sizes, the kinds of avid hobbyists who build elaborate model train sets in their basements and own the DVD “Unstoppable.”

For the rest of us, Train Day offers plenty to pique our interest too. Like cake. Last year, none other than “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro created an enormous train-shaped confection for the event in New York. Who knew locomotives could be so moist and delicious? While there’s no word on whether Buddy will appear at this year’s fete, there will be food prepared by celebrity chefs. There will be concerts. (Gladys Knight is the spokesperson for National Train Day 2011.) And there will be giveaways!

Here’s a sample of some upcoming National Train Day events taking place in Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Chicago:

-Amtrak Security K-9 Units will be performing exciting demonstrations featuring fearless, furry guards.

-There will be sweepstakes galore with some big-ticket prizes. Spoils include everything from free hotel stays to, of course, complimentary train tickets.

-Various celebrity chefs (such as Michel Richard of Citronelle) will prepare samples of gourmet meals served onboard Amtrak dining cars.

National Train Day events are taking place in small towns as well as big cities across the U.S. To find an event near you, use the handy National Train Day interactive map.

Throw in a major milestone — along with some celebratory money-saving deals — and you’ve got even more excitement. This year, Amtrak celebrates 40 years as “America’s Railroad.” The country’s biggest passenger rail service, which created National Train Day, is honoring its birthday by bestowing double and triple points on Amtrak Guest Rewards members and letting youngsters ride for free.

Will you be taking part in National Train Day?

— written by Caroline Costello

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