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A Holiday Treat on My Way to the VARP Meeting

From VARP’s On Track newsletter, winter 2011

By Jim Churchill, VARP executive vice president

While traveling to our VARP board meeting near the Main Street Amtrak Station in Richmond on December 12, 2009, a wonderful little pageant played itself out. As train 67 made its stop at Ashland, Virginia, a crowd of joyful and excited 75 children and 130 parents and friends joined the train for a Christmas trip to Williamsburg, Virginia. None other than Santa Claus himself joined the kids and went through the train to the delight of these passengers. On board the train, Santa handed out to each kid a large candy cane and a bag containing coupons donated by local merchants.

I vividly remember my first train ride as a school kid. These children will likely be the train travelers and maybe the advocates in decades to come.

To make this trip a memorable occasion, the sponsors of this event, Jim and Nancy Dolon, add a special touch. Before the train arrives, Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive by sleigh that morning at a local fire house and are whisked away to the station in a shiny red fire engine. There kids and their parents eagerly await the couple.

At Williamsburg Santa read from the wish list of the expectant children, pictures were taken, and the children had lunch on their own with parents and friends. They then returned to Ashland after a very full day of fun and train riding. What a delight to see the younger generation learning the practicality, safety, comfort, and fun of train travel.