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North Creek Railway launches ‘Polar Express’ trips

Saratoga & North Creek Railway Conductor Steve Conklin assists children as they board a passenger dome car Nov. 3 at the Saratoga Rail Station to celebrate the debut of the railway’s holiday Polar Express excursion trips.

Saratoga & North Creek Railway Conductor Steve Conklin assists children as they board a passenger dome car Nov. 3 at the Saratoga Rail Station to celebrate the debut of the railway’s holiday Polar Express excursion trips. Photo by Thom Randall.

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Santa greets Arlinda Birdsall and her triplet grandchildren Nick, Luke and Kate during a session kicking off the Saratoga & North Creek Railway’s 2012 Polar Express excursions running from Nov. 15 through Christmas. The round trips to ‘the North Pole’ feature singing elves, dancing chefs and retelling of the classic children’s holiday tale. This year, older children will have the chance to be chosen as Junior Conductors for one of the trips.

— 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.”

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