‘Christmas Town’ trip replaces Polar Express

TRAIN DEPOT in Hood River is where Mt. Hood Railroad’s “Train to Christmas Town” trip starts. Despite the cancellation of “Polar Express,” the tradition continues under a new name.

Photo by Trisha Walker
TRAIN DEPOT in Hood River is where Mt. Hood Railroad’s “Train to Christmas Town” trip starts. Despite the cancellation of “Polar Express,” the tradition continues under a new name.



Mt. Hood Railroad renews its holiday train under a new name in 2017.

“Train to Christmas Town” begins Nov. 18 and runs until Dec. 28, and folks who remember “The Polar Express” will receive a similar treat — Santa and his elves will be present, and so will hot cocoa and cookies, readings, and an hour or so of pajama-clad railroad fun.

Ticket sales are already apace with the old Polar Express for mid-November, but plenty of departures are planned this season from the depot in downtown Hood River.

Ron Kaufman, Mt. Hood Railroad general manager, noted that “The Train to Christmas Town,” based on the Peggy Ellis illustrated book, already has a solid track record at other locations.

Passengers will meet Santa and his elves, along with a cast of characters from the children’s book. Performances, snacks, and songs will be offered. Kids will meet Bumblebee the Bear, Wabash the Squirrel, and other characters, who will join with the elves in the reading of the story.

Santa joins the train each excursion at “Christmas Town,” in Pine Grove, for the ride back to Hood River. The former North Pole site has been updated this year, according to Kaufman. Crews were busy Monday morning prepping the location for its transformation into a holiday destination.

Rail Events Inc. announced last month that several U.S. locations of The Polar Express Train Ride, previously operated by Iowa Pacific Holdings, will not return for the 2017 season, including Mt. Hood Railroad in Hood River, due to legal disputes.

The November-December family-oriented excursion has been a mainstay of Mt. Hood Railroad offerings for the past 10 years.

Mt. Hood Railroad is a 22-mile railroad that runs through the Hood River Valley. The holiday excursion ride begins at the train depot, 110 Railroad Ave.

Visit the website for details at www.mthoodrr.com or call the reservation center 1-800-872-4661.



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