It may still be only November, but Christmas cheer is already in the air thanks to the V&T Railroad.
This past weekend, the V&T Railroad debuted its annual Polar Express train ride to kick off the holidays. The hour-long train takes you to the North Pole and back while experiencing all the real-life glory of the film “The Polar Express”
If you’re needing a fun holiday treat for the whole family, this is definitely the activity for you. First of all, anything that encourages you to show up in pajamas is always an A+ endeavour, but aside from that, it truly is something for all ages to enjoy.
“It is fun for everyone, lots of families with teens and grown up children attend, too,” said Candy Duncan, V&T Station liaison and project coordinator. “Many wear matching pajamas, Santa caps, they really get into the spirit. For a lot of families it has become a tradition.”
I for one, love “The Polar Express” movie, it’s a Christmas tradition my little sister and I watch every year, so when the V&T Railroad offered members of the media a chance to experience it firsthand I was excited to say the least but I also had some high expectations.
You start at the V&T Depot off of Highway 50, where you get your first glimpse of the holiday decorated train. Christmas lights and garland twinkled last Saturday night as dusk turned to dark and the lights shone brighter by the minute.
“My favorite part is seeing all the families, the kids and everyone have a great time and get into the Christmas spirit,” Duncan said.
This is the eighth year the railroad has put on this Christmas tradition and more than 20,000 people ride the holiday train every season, Duncan said. They also have a team of about 60 volunteers who help construct the North Pole and participate in the story as elves, conductors, chefs and more.
“It’s very heartwarming,” Duncan said.
Duncan said their main goal is to imitate the movie as closely as possible, and they achieved that. From the boy in the blue bathrobe acting out lines in the movie, to dance numbers from chefs with hot chocolate to Santa Claus and his elves making an appearance to provide the first present for Christmas, the Polar Express gives the movie a run for its money.
Once on the train, you feel enveloped in your own Christmas village, with lights, greenery and ribbons decorating the inside of the train car. And through the hour-long train ride, you’re entertained with songs, dances, jokes and a reading of the Polar Express story by the chefs on board. All of the ride is interactive with the volunteers encouraging passengers to sing along and talk with the actors.
My favorite part was the dance number where the chefs pass out the hot chocolate. Don’t lie: Who doesn’t love a good song and dance about the perfect winter drink? I didn’t think they would do it, but they did the whole shebang.
“Hot! Hot! Hey, we got it! Hot! Hot! Say, we got it! Hot chocolate!”
And of course, no Christmas train would be complete without a visit from the big man in red. Once at the North Pole, Santa Claus and his elves hopped on board to take pictures with the passengers and pass out a souvenir silver bell — just like the one received in the movie — to remind everyone Christmas is all about believing in magic and those things you can’t always see.
So at the end, we all hopped off the train, bellies full of hot chocolate and Christmas cookies, with our magic bells to remind us to keep the Christmas spirit. And even though it was the middle of November, it was a nice reminder the joyous holiday season was right around the corner.
To purchase tickets to ride the Polar Express, go to vtrailway.com or call 877-724-5007. Tickets are $46 for adults and $36 for children in coach and $82 for adults and $72 for children in VIP. The VIP ticket comes with a special car as well as a ceramic keepsake mug and a bigger Christmas cookie. Duncan said many of the tickets are already sold out and the rest are expected to go quickly.
The train will run until Dec. 30 with trains running Thursday through Sunday at 5, 6:30, and 8.