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Watsonville’s first Christmas Train

Posted: Friday, Nov 29th, 2013


Nick and Natalie Solari and their daughter, Natlie, 2, of Lodi, are among the first to board the Train to Christmas Town Friday in Watsonville for a one-hour ride. (Photos by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)


WATSONVILLE — Anderson Whitley, 4, could barely contain himself.

He was dancing with joy as he waited to board the Train to Christmas Town, with its giant, thrumming diesel engine and stark brown-and-orange paint job.

Anderson was one of hundreds of people who took the inaugural ride from Watsonville.

“I heard about it on Facebook, and I thought it would be great for my nephew,” Anderson’s aunt Ellie Ness said. “He loves trains and he’s super excited about Santa.”

John Dooley came from Pleasanton with his large family — five young girls and four adults. Most of them were wearing matching shirts emblazoned with characters from Dr. Seuss’ “The Grinch” book.

Like most kids who were there, 7-year-olds Claire and Kate Dooley and Sammi Pomeroy were bubbling with excitement at the prospect of getting on the train, meeting Santa and becoming a part of the “Train to Christmas Town” story, on which the train ride is based.

In that book, a little girl named Janice and her brother take their first ride on the Christmas train without their grandmother, who is too sick to come. Along the way they meet several woodland characters and get a visit from Santa.

Event Manager Kerri Smith said the ride has generated such buzz that it has sold out through today, and in fact organizers had to turn away some families after Friday’s ride was overbooked. Not to worry, though — the event is likely to run through Dec. 31.

“We’re bringing Christmas to Watsonville,” Smith said.

Still, those who climbed aboard saw colorful Christmas decorations and brightly costumed characters. They also got a visit from Santa, who got on at a later stop.

“I’m so excited,” said Dawni Pappas, spokeswoman for Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay Railway, which manages the event. “I’m excited for the community. It’s a segue into something better. It’s what our community needs now.”

•••

For information, or to purchase tickets, call 888-978-5562 or visit traintochristmastown.com.

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