Catskill Mountain Railroad Keeps Holiday Tradition Alive in a New Way
Whether you grew up with the book, the movie, or both, The Polar Express has been a holiday mainstay ever since its first publication in 1985. The tale reminds us that “seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can’t see.” The Polar Express has been a hit in my household for years. One year, my parents got me a Believing Bell from the movie, which I still cherish to this day.
One Hudson Valley tradition that the Catskill Mountain Railroad has offered is The Polar Express Train Ride, licensed out by Rail Events Inc. It is an incredible way of experiencing the magic of the story and heightens anyone’s holiday spirit. The Catskill Mountain Railroad is a heritage railroad based in Kingston, New York, that began operations in 1982. The Catskill Mountain Railroad is a for-profit organization dedicated to preserving the railroad corridor for all-season recreational use. All shareholders are also volunteers on the railroad. They depend on ticket sales and volunteer efforts to operate and make continuous improvements. Despite a vast majority of Rail Events Inc.’s events returning in 2021, it was announced that The Catskill Mountain Railroad canceled their Polar Express Train Ride for 2021 due to ongoing concerns regarding the pandemic. On their website, they state:
“Having worked closely on advisement from local health officials, CMRR has decided it is best to not operate the event this year due to recommendations regarding social distancing and masking requirements in indoor spaces.”
Despite this news, the Catskill Mountain Railroad is offering an alternative that keeps the spirit of the initial event alive: The Catskill Christmas Express! The Catskill Christmas Express will take passengers on 60-minute trips through Catskill Forest to Santa’s Workshop at the North Pole! Due to Covid-19, they will be using open-air flat cars which will be festively lit and decorated, so dress warmly for the occasion. Pocket warmers will be available for purchase before departure. Each flat car offers canopies and center bench seats. To allow for proper distancing, the passenger count is limited to 140 per session. Though elves will be on board to entertain the families, Santa will only greet passengers as they pass by for the sake of safety. We need to make sure the big guy is healthy for his annual run! Each passenger will receive an individually wrapped cookie from their local bakery and will receive a small gift when passing the North Pole. Tickets are $29 for adults and $23 for children. For information on tickets, see their website.
In 2000, Rail Events Inc. was established to create family memories and preserve history. By creating licensed railroad events for young families and children. Rail Events Inc is a proud member of the American Heritage Railways Family. Besides The Polar Express Train Ride, they also license various Peanuts-related events, such as The Party Express, The Great Pumpkin Patch, The Easter Beagle Express, and The Valentine Express. For more information on them and their events, see their website.