"" Writer's Wanderings: The Polar Express to the North Pole!

Friday, December 09, 2011

The Polar Express to the North Pole!

The Polar Express, also known as the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, sits at the station at Rockside Road in Independence as eager train riders board and are led to their seats by the elves on the train. My job involves serving the hot chocolate and cookies but I help to keep the energetic little ones--and big ones--entertained as we wait for all to board and be seated. Most, including the adults are wearing their pajamas. It is quite a flannel sleepwear fashion show.

Our trainman in the car informs us that all are aboard and the conductor has given the signal for the train to begin moving forward to the North Pole. Our lead elf, Patrick, begins his welcome, introduces the other four elves in the car and the trainman, and then begins the story of The Polar Express. During the telling, the assistant elves and trainman add sound effects, illustrations, and lots of cheering.

Meanwhile back in a little cubby hole, I and another server elf begin pouring hot chocolate into cups, adding lids, and wrapping packaged cookies (straight from Mrs. Claus' oven) with napkins. As soon as the story is finished, they will be handed out.

Between the refreshments and our arrival at the North Pole, we break out in song but soon, the lights in the car begin to dim. It's the signal that we're getting close. All the children are asked to move to one side of the car and the adults to the other and the "Northern Lights" begin to give the landscape a festive glow.

Elf Patrick announces that we are arriving. We're here! The North Pole! We pass the hobo warming himself by the fire and then we see them--the North Pole elves! They are surrounded by thousands of Christmas lights and displays. And, wait! There's Frosty and the Gingerbread Man and Reindeer and Mr. and Mrs. Jack Frost with their dog, Snowflake! We pass the train cars that are holding all the gifts that Santa will deliver on Christmas Eve. As the train pulls through so that all the cars get a view of everything, Elf Patrick points out the Winking Lizard, the watering hole for the North Pole elves (a little humor for the adults).

We stop and wait a few minutes and sure enough, there's Santa! His sleigh is being pulled by a smaller version of the Polar Express and next to him sits Mrs. Claus. Is that a little flour on her nose from all her baking?

It is at this point that all the hours of volunteering are worth it. There is nothing so special as the faces of little ones who are magically transported to a world of their imagination. Faces pressed against the windows are softly lit by the glow of the Christmas lights. I remember my wonder as a child at all that was magical about the season. But our adventure isn't over yet. . .

The Special Passenger
All Aboard The Polar Express!

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