The Polar Express

By Guest Contributor September 14, 2016 16:26
Mike McReynolds and wife Roberta portray Santa and Mrs. Claus for Railtown's Polar Express

Mike McReynolds and wife Roberta portray Santa and Mrs. Claus

The Polar Express

By “Santa” Mike McReynolds

In the cold and quiet of the winter night, the radio crackles to life. “Hello North Pole. This is the Polar Express at Milepost 39, over.”

“Milepost 39. Thank you, Mr. Conductor. Welcome to the North Pole.”

“Thanks Santa, see you shortly. Polar Express, out.” Thus begins the finale of a magical adventure for a trainload of eager children and adults. Up until now they have been hearing the story of the Polar Express, listened to the music, been served hot chocolate and cookies by uniformed waiters, and watched dancers in the aisles of the train. But now the big moment has arrived. The North Pole!

As the radio goes silent, Santa gathers his elves and tells them, “They’ll be here in about four minutes.”

The jackets and sweatshirts disappear and in their place are four brightly dressed elves making last second preparations for the show. And then — the train is here! The elves are carrying packages to the waiting sack for the sleigh. One is in the workshop painting toys and the Big Guy is standing in front of all this activity with a long list of good boys and girls in his hand, waving and pointing at the faces in the windows of the train as the presents are carefully loaded.

The train explodes with noise as hundreds of excited kids clamor for Santa’s attention. Santa and the elves call back, “Welcome to the North Pole! Merry Christmas!”

All of this continues until the train has slowly passed and as the engine rolls by, Santa quietly steps back and disappears into the workshop. At the far end of the train another Santa will climb aboard and pass out sleigh bells (the first gift of Christmas) to all of the passengers on board.

The train pulls out of the North Pole and in a few minutes all is quiet and cold again at the pole. The elves quickly don their sweatshirts and jackets, and gather around the propane heater in the back room. Santa sits down in the toy shop and patiently waits for the radio to announce the arrival of the next trainload of holiday travelers.

It is magic to see the children hanging out of the windows of the train to get a better view of Santa and the elves; suddenly it isn’t so cold anymore.

Riverbank resident Mike McReynolds, 70, began volunteering for Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in 1988 as an engineer. For the last three years, he has portrayed Santa at Railtown’s Polar Express. Says McReynolds: “My beard was red when we started; now Mother Nature does my makeup. I love the joy of portraying one of childhood’s most iconic figures. Seeing the wonder on a child’s face and even some adults who want pictures with Santa brings joy to our lives.”

polar-expressThe 2016 Polar Express departs the Jamestown park Fridays-Sundays, Dec. 2-4, 9-11 and 16-18 at 4:30pm, 6pm and 7:30pm. General public ticket sales begin 9am, Friday, Oct. 13, and are available online only:  railtown1897.org/polar.

By Guest Contributor September 14, 2016 16:26
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