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Santa's train kicks off holiday season in Fairbanks

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Posted: Friday, November 23, 2012 11:57 am | Updated: 12:07 pm, Mon Jan 21, 2013.

FAIRBANKS — The music might have been blaring for the past two weeks and the stores decked out in red and green since October, but it’s Saturday that officially kicks off the Christmas season in Fairbanks.

The Friends of the Tanana Valley Railroad are firing up Engine No. 67 for some holiday-inspired travels through Pioneer Park, complete with Santa and the Grinch making appearances. The train, normally just used in the summer months, will be adorned in holiday decorations that usher in the Christmas season in Interior Alaska.

“It’s a fun family activity and a kickoff to the holiday season,” said Rita Osborne, a volunteer with the Friends of the Tanana Valley Railroad.

Plans for the day include train rides through the park while enjoying cookies, punch, hot cider, hot chocolate and roasted chestnuts. The Grinch, always a crowd favorite, is usually the head chestnut roaster, Osborne said.

Children will be able to set and talk to Santa about what’s on their holiday wishlist, but Osborne said be patient — Santa goes out of his way to talk to each child he visits.

“Santa takes his time with each kid, so there might be a wait,” Osborne said. Visits with Santa are free, and photos with Santa are available for a small charge.

Osborne advises parents and children to bundle up for the outdoor adventure. The weather cutoff for train rides is 25 below zero, but regardless of the temperature, there will be Santa, the Grinch and refreshments.

“Fairbanks has supported Friends of the Tanana Valley Railroad with donations and time, materials, money and restoration projects, and this is a way to give back,” Osborne said.

If you go

What: Santa Express Train

When: Noon to 5 p.m. Saturday

Where: Tanana Valley Railroad Museum in

Pioneer Park

Cost: Free train rides and visits with Santa Claus, but there is a charge for a photo.

FYI: The cut off temperature for train rides is

25 below zero, but Santa and refreshments will

still be available.

Contact Features Editor Gary Black at 459-7504, by email at or on Twitter at @FDNMfeatures.

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