Old Brick apprentices promote tourism

During November and December, passersby in Elkins may have been surprised by a unique scene: a line of toy soldiers with giant candy canes marching toward the local Depot.

As in the past three years, the Old Brick Playhouse apprentice students have contributed their time and expertise to create a lively event at the Depot for parents and children arriving to participate in the Polar Express excursion.

Each night, 10 to 12 OBP apprentice volunteers greeted passengers in the Caboose Room of the Depot.

Their first task was to guard the many presents left at the Depot by Santa. While young and old children alike waited to board the train, they were enchanted by several stations set up in the Depot by the Old Brick Playhouse. Waiting children could receive a delightful holiday tattoo, compose a very special letter to Santa, or create a Christmas snowflake.

Missy Armentrout McCollam, OBP executive director, said, “The exciting element of this project to me is that these youth were willing to give up their time on weekends and weeknights just to make visitors to Elkins feel more welcome.

“Each of our students was encouraged to create a name and character for themselves, and no matter what passengers may have asked, students would not break character.

“We were immediately complimented by representatives from Warner Brothers Rail Events on our accomplished student and alumni actors,” Armentrout McCollam said.

Phil Smith, OBP assistant director, said, “Children and families found the apprentices to be the ‘first line’ in establishing a holiday-like environment for the event. Some students used this experience for their senior projects, some for community service hours, and some just for fun.”

Junior and senior apprentice students had the opportunity to work on the train as singing, dancing, chocolate-serving chefs. Night after night they helped guide train journeys to the beautifully adorned North Pole, entertaining the along the way.

More than 75 Old Brick Playhouse apprentices and apprentice alumni, board members, and staff were involved in the POLAR project, Armentrout McCollam said.

Old Brick staff members Cathy Blumenfeld and Deb Smith supervised the Depot decorations, costume design and coordination of the student volunteers.

“They made everything look magical and inviting for visitors,” she added.

The Old Brick Playhouse apprentices have been instrumental in entertaining approximately 30,000 tourists in Elkins for this exciting event.

More information on the Old Brick apprentice program can be obtained by calling 304-637-9090 or emailing missy@theoldbrick.org.