December 2008 Issue
Hocking Valley Scenic Railroad
Vivian Pospisil and Ilona Westfall
“Come in your pajamas and robes for a ride on this evening express,” the invitation says. Southeast Ohio becomes holiday central at this time of year, as the Hocking Valley Scenic Railroad morphs into the North Pole Express for two memorable nights, Saturday, Dec. 6, and Friday, Dec. 19.
Departing the Nelsonville depot, the train rumbles along the HVSR tracks, hard by the Hocking River, and returns to North Pole Nelsonville, where the Polar Express-like conductor and his elf helpers lead passengers to a Santa meet-and-greet. Ice-skating is encouraged (BYO skates), and cookies and hot chocolate are served.
The North Pole Express is just one of several HVSR excursions this month. The Santa Train leaves the Nelsonville depot Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 21, with Mr. Claus and elves on board to meet with children and pass out candy treats.
On Dec. 12, the train becomes the site of a murder mystery: Santa’s Slay Ride enlists passengers to help solve the case of a sinister plot to rid the world of Santa Claus and Christmas. The family-friendly fun includes music, laughter and plenty of audience participation.
Finally, the HVSR bids the year 2008 adieu on the New Year’s Eve Train. The celebration includes fireworks and fun for all ages: While a wine-and-cheese party entertains adults only in one car, a Pepsi-and-pizza good time attracts celebrants of all ages in another.