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Christmas train to leave from Watsonville

Modified: Tuesday, Nov 5th, 2013

A 1950s-era General Motors/Electro-Motive Division F-9A diesel-electric engine, used for the Train to Christmas Town ride, makes a stop at West Beach and Walker streets in Watsonville Monday morning. (Photo by Erik Chalhoub/Register-Pajaronian)

WATSONVILLE — Santa Claus is making a pit stop in Watsonville.

The Train to Christmas Town, the Christmas-themed excursion train operated by the Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay Railway, will be departing from Watsonville this year.

With the first trip scheduled for the day after Thanksgiving, the construction of a station and parking lot to accommodate passengers will begin this week at 765 Ohlone Parkway.

Workers will be out grading the land and laying down base rock while the two locomotives in operation during the Christmas service are put in good working order, according to Jeff Weeks, general manager of the Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay Railway.

Based on a book of the same name, the Train to Christmas Town takes passengers on a journey to Christmas Town to see Santa Clause while they mingle with a cast of characters from the book, including Bumblebee the polar bear and Zephyr the cat.

Elves are also on board, serving passengers hot cocoa and cookies, while an audio recording of the story is played.

Santa Claus will then board the train at a special staging area — Christmas Town — that is to be constructed near Manresa State Beach, six miles from the embarking site in Watsonville.

The excursion is expected to last an hour roundtrip and ticket prices have been reduced from last year when the excursion train left from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and travelled six miles northwards, passing through densely populated residential areas.

Watsonville’s economic development manager Kurt Overmeyer said there have been discussions with the railway on promoting local eateries, movie theaters and other local establishments during the excursion.

The Train to Christmas Town will run from November 29 to December 28. Tickets are available now.

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