Saratoga Train Conductor Steve Conklin helped one pajama-clad child after another board a passenger car parked Thursday in the Saratoga Rail Station.
“Next stop, the North Pole,” he announced with a grin.
Soon afterwards, about two dozen children and their parents were treated to a visit by Santa Claus and served hot chocolate — in a kickoff of the Saratoga & North Creek Railway’s Polar Express train rides.
These themed excursions offered by the railroad begin Nov. 18 and run through December. The excursions re-tell the classic children’s story of a magical Christmas train, a tale that was turned into a movie in 2004.
The series of 64 Polar Express train trips, taking children to “the North Pole” and back, are a first-ever for the Capital Region.
During the one-hour excursions, the classic tale comes to life, complete with singing elves, dancing chefs and a visit by Santa.
The story is read aloud and the music of the movie plays aloud during the trip, prompting sing-alongs.
The Polar Express events are offered at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. on select days in November and daily from Dec. 2 through Dec. 23 — plus two trips on the concluding days of Dec. 27 and 28.
At the Nov. 3 media event, Arlinda Birdsall and three of her grandchildren — young triplets Nick, Luke and Kate Sesselman — experienced a taste of the upcoming Polar Express trip.
“This is so exciting for my grandkids — they’ve been talking about this non-stop,” Birdsall said of her youngsters, garbed in Santa hats and pajamas. “They are playing hooky from pre-school to be here.”
Kaitlin Carter, a new resident of Saratoga Springs, said her children Kadyn, 4, and Lawson, 1, were excited about an upcoming ride on the Polar Express.
“It will be a fantastic experience — it’s their first train ride ever.”