Archive for Thursday, December 9, 2010

Santa’s Express all aboard to offer country Christmas

December 9, 2010

Area residents dreaming of an old-fashioned country Christmas this year won’t have far to go to experience one.

Though the National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame closed its doors for the winter season on Dec. 1, the center will welcome visitors back for the return of an annual Christmas tradition that director Cathi Hahner says adds something unique to the holiday season.

“I think that it’s very different from going to the mall to see Santa,” Hahner said of Santa’s Express, which takes place the next two weekends at the Ag Hall. “… (People) get to come out, it’s got a country feel, they visit with Santa but they can also visit with each other. Large families come out and just enjoy the day.”

Santa’s Express was canceled last year due to the center’s unpromising financial state, but Hahner said plans were back on track for the 19th Santa’s Express at the Ag Hall. She said she had already received a lot of positive feedback from people glad to have the event back.

Among the festivities on tap are hayrides to the FarmTown USA section of the center, where visitors can tour the turn-of-the-century buildings, a blacksmith at work, storytime in the one-room school room, visits with Santa in the train depot, rides on the miniature train and hot cocoa and cookies in the barn.

During the event, youths will also have a chance to participate in hands-on activities, such as writing notes and drawing pictures to Santa on paper that will later be hung up in as holiday decorations in the train depot. Several of the center’s buildings will be open for touring, as well, and farm-related films will be shown in the theater, located in the Hall of Fame.

“So there’s a lot of excitement that it’s back this year,” Hahner said.

Even before the visitors arrive, Hahner said already this year’s Santa’s Express was notable for the many people who are volunteering to help make it a success. She said about 100 volunteers have signed up to help out with such activities as serving the cocoa and cookies, helping youths with crafts and greeting people on the hay wagons. Volunteers will work in shifts throughout the two weekends, and Hahner said “we’re lucky that we’ll be able to handle the crowds that come by having that many volunteers.”

Santa’s Express will be from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 11, 12, 18 and 19. Admission is $5 per person, with free admission for children age 1 and under.

“I think that it’s got that old-fashioned charm to it, the holiday charm where it’s more laid back,” Hahner said of the event. “Kids can run around and enjoy themselves, families can come out and feel like their spending the day in the country. And we also have the train, and most kids think that’s pretty awesome.”

For more information, contact the Ag Hall at (913) 721-1075.

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