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Catch a ride on the Polar Express next week

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Posted: Saturday, November 18, 2017 3:30 pm

In the beloved children’s book “The Polar Express,” a young boy hears a train whistle. When he goes to investigate, a train — waiting especially for him — takes him and other children on an exciting adventure to the North Pole, where they meet Santa Claus and his elves.

For the fourth consecutive holiday season, Railtown 1897 is recreating the classic Christmas story.

With a festive locomotive decked out to reflect the season and headed to the North Pole, the staff and volunteers at Railtown 1897 SHP go to great lengths to re-create the picture book by Chris Van Allsburg.

Their efforts have drawn international notice.

“As a real point of pride for Railtown, I’m excited to share the news that we were recognized by Rail Events with a prestigious Polar Bell award for best décor,” said Jackie Olavarria, Railtown 1897’s supervising ranger. “We were chosen out of 50 Polar Express partners in the U.S. and Canada based on site visits, guest feedback and consumer reviews.”

The hour-long holiday experience includes keepsake souvenir tickets, hot cocoa, festive holiday cookies, Santa Claus sightings and even the coveted silver bells — the first gift of Christmas for those who still believe in Santa Claus. Characters from the story will make appearances during the ride.

Guests who bring their cameras or smartphones can capture memorable holiday photos in the historic Roundhouse — complete with a steam engine in the background.

The festive train rides begin the weekend after Thanksgiving, and tickets are selling fast. The Old Sacramento branch of the Polar Express is already sold out.

The Polar Express Train Ride is a fundraiser for the California State Railroad Museum Foundation, which supports Railtown 1897 State Historic Park.

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