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The Polar Express

      My family loves Christmas.  We love it so much our youngest daughter's middle name is Noel.  So, naturally we would love all events that go along with this holiday.  When our oldest daughter was two, we started going on the Polar Express.  We decided to do it every other year, to make it more special.  The other years, my husband and I go to Trans Siberian Orchestra's Christmas concert, and hope to start taking our oldest with us next year.
      This year is the Polar Express year and my girls, especially my oldest who actually remembers this experience, were very excited!  This year, though, was even more exciting because our friends came with us this time.  In our group, we had 6 adults and 13 children ranging from 3 months to 11 years old!!!!
     There are different train cars that you can choose when buying the tickets (a year before the actual ride) ranging in prices.  We have always chosen the first class lounge seating car.  The other cars have table and chairs or benches, but because of the room they take up, there is not much room for the kids to dance around.  In the lounge seating though, there are couch like benches lining the sides of the train which are much more comfortable and spacious for the adults.   The aisles are also a lot bigger so that the kids have plenty of room for their dance parties!  Also, with buying first class tickets, you get a souvenir mug for each ticket.
     Every year we've gone, this is our third, it has rained!  So, of course, it was pouring when we went this year!  They have some nice photo ops outside, by the train and signs, but sadly we had to skip this.  There was an activity tent and a gift shop tent.  The activities, in my opinion, are not the greatest.  They get to write on a wall to Santa, which is cute, and then there are some table paper activities.
     Once on the train, the kids were super excited, not that they weren't before!  The train took off and there was some singing and dancing before the elves and conductor asked if anyone wanted any refreshments!   Hot chocolate and cookies followed, along with the dancing elves and conductor.  The conductor then walked through the car with the book, while it was read through the overhead speaker.  Then it was just a big dance party!  We reached the North Pole, and started heading back to the train station.  The dancing and singing and laughing continued until Santa reached our car!   The kids all got to take pictures with him, after he handed them a special present, the first gift of Christmas, a bell from his sleigh!
     Soon after Santa left our car, the ride was over.  We hurried back to our cars, trying not to get wet, and headed home.  I put on The Polar Express for the kids to watch, and one by one, they fell asleep.  They had such a good time, and I'm sure it's a memory that will stick with all of them for a long time!

Here are some pictures of our night.  I apologize for the blurriness of some of them.  They were moving so fast it was hard to get some good shots!