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Polar Express brings Christmas spirit to central West Virginia

November 24, 2012
By Beth Christian Broschart - Staff Writer , The Inter-Mountain

As the passengers rode along, they watched the beautiful scenery pass by as herds of deer are running through the fields. In the background, beautiful Christmas carols played and the excitement of the season sparkled in the eyes of the many children who gathered to ride on the Polar Express.

Who wouldn't enjoy taking a break, especially during this frantic time of the year? A trip on the Polar Express affords adults, children, families and friends time to slow down and enjoy the excitement and joy of the holiday season.

Now in its second year, the magical excursion train Polar Express has sold out seats on all of its journeys for this season. And spots for next year's train are filling up fast.

Article Photos

The Inter-Mountain photo by Casey Houser
Santa Claus boards the Polar Express at the North Pole train stop, spending his return trip gathering childrens’ Christmas lists.

At the Elkins Railroad Depot, children waited patiently to board the cars for the fun-filled Polar Express event Nov. 16. Most were dressed for the occasion, sporting warm pajamas, Christmas hats and fuzzy bedroom slippers. Elisa Farley, age 4, Landon Thomas, age 7, and Gianna Thomas, age 5, could hardly wait to climb aboard.

"I can't wait to ride the Polar Express," said Farley.

"We want to get some hot chocolate," said Landon and Gianna Thomas.

Once on board, the true magic began. Each passenger received their golden ticket, which the train conductor checks and punches. He was on the lookout for a ticketless hobo who makes his way through the cars.

A parade of chefs, led by head chef Spaghetti, danced and sang their way through the cars dolling out warm, rich hot chocolate and yummy Christmas cookies.

Every passenger listened intently to the reading of "The Polar Express." Chefs passed by each table showing the wonderful pictures in the book, while keeping the excitement high on the train. Games, magic tricks and activities kept little ones engaged all the way to the North Pole.

Belington residents and OnTrac volunteers came to the North Pole to help welcome the Polar Express train to its destination. Ribbons, bows and thousands of bright lights illuminated the beautiful setting. Spaghetti taught everyone the chant, "Yahoo! Ho Ho Ho," in hopes of getting the attention of Santa Claus.

Santa boarded the Polar Express at the North Pole, spending his trip back to the Depot visiting with those who believed to confirm their Christmas present wishes.

Ten-year-old Ian McDonald told Santa he wanted a video game and Ghillie suit for Christmas. Broderick McDonald, age 12, asked Santa for a new pair of binoculars.

Audra McDonald, age 6, told Santa she wanted an Easy Bake Oven and a fortune cookie maker.

"If he asked me, I would ride in the sky in Santa's sleigh," Audra McDonald said. "I would not be afraid."

Braxton Bishop, 6, told Santa he wants more trains on Christmas Day. Mother Marsha Bishop, from Oak Hill, said she was glad they were able to make the trip.

"Braxton loves trains, and I wanted to give him something special," Marsha Bishop said. "So we decided to book a ride on the Polar Express. I searched online and thought this sounded fun. We are going to make reservations tonight for next year."

Spaghetti, portrayed by Missy McCollam, said representatives from Warner Brothers rode on the local Polar Express recently.

"They are very impressed that our energy is still high," McCollam said. "We work hard to keep everyone engaged, and plan activities at least every five minutes. It is as fun for us as it is for those riding the train."

Santa gave a sleigh bell to everyone who believed, and the bells ringing out sounded magical as everyone exited the train.

"We should come again and do this next year," said Audra McDonald. "This was so much fun!"



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