The jolly old elf traded in his reindeer for the rails Saturday as the VRE Santa Trains got back on track after a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Five VRE stations - Manassas, Woodbridge, Fredericksburg, Burke Center and Spotsylvania - launched 13 trains on 75-minute trips between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
At the Manassas station parents corralled excited children and navigated through the throng of holiday shoppers perusing the weekly farmer's market. Once the passengers were all aboard, the train slowly rumbled toward the town of Clifton - the next stop on the line. Riders were treated to renditions of "Carol of the Bells" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" by a local school choir before Mrs. Claus and the rosy man himself greeted children and asked them what they wanted this year as helpers passed out candy canes and coloring books.
On the platform marines in full dress collected unwrapped toys and donations for the Marine Corps Reserve's Toys for Tots drive and even the Grinch and a giant gingerbread man were in a festive mood as they high-fived and took pictures with wary little ones.
The Santa Train events also take the opportunity to promote Operation Lifesaver’s “Look, Listen and Live" campaign which focuses on teaching rail safety and celebrates its fiftieth anniversary this year. Tickets go on sale around two weeks ahead of time, but those looking to partake in this annual tradition must act fast as the highly anticipated event generally sells out within minutes online.
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