All aboard the North Pole Express

One of Santa’s elves gets a hug from a passenger on the North Pole Express. (contributed)

One of Santa’s elves gets a hug from a passenger on the North Pole Express. (contributed)

By MOLLIE BROWN / Community Columnist

“All Aboooard!” the conductor calls and the magical journey begins. The North Pole Express thunders through the nighttime wilderness of Calera, whisking passengers away to the enchanted beauty of the North Pole. Everyone enjoys milk and cookies and sings Christmas carols along with live musician Mr. Jim. Children dressed in pajamas sit enthralled listening to a special Christmas story.

When the train arrives, the children’s faces light up as Santa, Mrs. Claus and his elves board the train to visit with passengers. Passengers aboard the Silver Maple and Kayenta railcars receive first class service. Hot chocolate is served in a souvenir mug, and they enjoy a special dessert, premium gift and specialized service.

The North Pole Express, located at 1919 9th St. in Calera, is a beloved tradition of The Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum. HODRRM President Jim Garnett said families come from miles away to capture this holiday experience.

“This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum,” Garnett said. “We’ve had families come from as far away as Alaska and Bermuda to ride the North Pole Express. Our hope is people right here in Shelby County and the surrounding area will come out and enjoy this wonderful event. Tickets sell out by the end of summer, so I recommend buying them as soon as possible.”

Group sales (20 or more) and individual tickets are on sale now. Make this your holiday tradition by calling 757-8383 or visiting HODRRM.org (tickets are not available for purchase at the railroad museum). Children who haven’t celebrated their 2nd birthday do not require a ticket. However you are required to hold them on your lap.

Another event, the Santa Special, will run Saturdays from Nov. 30 through Dec. 21. Santa rides the train and listens to Christmas wishes as he poses for photos and gives each child a special gift. Tickets for the Santa Special can be purchased by phone, online or at the railroad museum.