GRANT Mooney (left) of Redi Shed Construction and Sam Brogan of Mount Hood Railroad seen here in front of the newly constructed North Pole set in Pine Grove.
As of Wednesday, November 16, 2016
The Mount Hood Railroad is making the holidays a little more merry and bright on The Polar Express train ride this year, with service beginning Nov. 12. The story comes to life when the train departs Hood River for a one hour round-trip to the newly built North Pole set located in Pine Grove.
The new set was constructed over the last few weeks by Grant Mooney’s local Hood River Redi Shed construction company. The project is 165 feet long featuring large arched openings, bridges and thousands of holiday lights to set the mood for Santa’s appearance.
“We were very pleased to have used Grant Mooney to handle this unique project which came with some unusual construction challenges.” said Sam Brogan of Mount Hood Railroad. Mooney built the set from scratch, developing plans that he put together from photos of similar sets already in place at other company location throughout the world.
Brogan, who started at the bottom with the railroad six years ago picking up trash and doing track labor as a summer job, today is a certified conductor working on dinner, brunch, excursion and Polar Express trains. During the regular season, he serves as the track foreman in charge of keeping the tracks safe and smooth for the riders. Come November he turns into Mount Hood Railroad’s set designer, putting up thousands of feet of lights around the Hood River depot and at the new North Pole set in Pine Grove.
In addition to the new set, guests will be treated to a number of other improvements in this year’s service, including newly reconditioned rail cars, new windows to provide better views, enhanced decorations at the train depot, and comfortable, tented waiting areas prior to boarding.
Set to the sounds of the motion picture soundtrack, passengers will relive the magic of the story as they are whisked away on The Polar Express train ride. Once onboard, cheerful, dancing chefs serve passengers hot chocolate and cookies while they read along with the classic children’s book, “The Polar Express,” by Chris Van Allsburg. Santa and his helpers greet passengers at the North Pole and then board the train, where each child is given the first gift of Christmas — a silver sleigh bell. Chefs aboard each car lead passengers in singing Christmas carols on the ride back to Hood River.
Service runs through Dec. 23 on select dates, with departure times at 11:30 a.m., 2 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Exact dates, fares and excursion times are available by visiting www. mthoodrr.com/the-polar-express-train-ride or calling 800-872-4661.
Polar Express train rides are licensed by Rail Events, Inc. on behalf of Warner Bros. Consumer Products, Inc. Since 2005, Rail Events, Inc. has held the exclusive license to operate The Polar Express™ train rides in the US, Canada, and the United Kingdom.