Yesterday was Santa Train Day here in the town of Onley. Once again, the Onley Train Station hosted the stop. It was an exciting moment for many… a rough estimate was 62 kids. There may have been more, the kids did not hold still for a body count, and more may have come after the unofficial count. One thing I know for sure, I made 3 gallons of hot chocolate and went thru a container of whipped cream! This is double the number of kids from last year, probably because last year we had a torrential rain falling and some pretty high winds. This year it was a bit windy, but the sun was shining. The temps were in the low 40s, wind chill in the mid 30s, but at least it was not raining INSIDE the building this year!!!!!!
Once again we set up the tents in the building (Thanks, Pat!) After all, the weather around here is very changeable and more unpredictable than in most other places, and even though the weather graphics on TV showed a mixture of sun and a few clouds for the entire week-end, few folks believed we would get what I found outside this morning when I got up – SNOW! So, given we have a popcorn machine still standing in the corner, I thought it best we put the tents up, just in case. As I type this, it is dripping a bit of rain interspersed with the occasional snowflake, though the road still looks dry, sort of, almost. But, 5 minutes from now the sun might be shining! We just never know!
Also, the tent in the freight room is a good way to maintain crowd control so Santa doesn’t get mobbed. And this year I bought a string of LED colored lights to put around the Santa tent to make it a bit more festive. I was amazed that LED lights don’t give off any heat! Perfect for putting on a plastic tent!
We had a good crew helping to keep things working… cleaning up, making popcorn (thanks Shore Bank), passing out cookies (thanks PNC Bank), crowd control, putting up the plastic door that helped keep a tiny bit of heat in. Our only real glitch was with the circuit breaker – not enough juice to have a heater on, popcorn popper, and a 30 cup pot of water heating all at once. So, Susan and I took turns heating water for hot chocolate and popping corn.
A word of thanks to George for helping me put the plastic up at the door and running up and down the steps for me. It was a less than perfect day for my back and knee. I so hate being semi-helpless.
I did mention to Santa that we’d asked for a new roof last year, and I pointed to our sad and sorry ceiling… “But it didn’t happen,” I said. Had he known me better I am sure he would have made some comment about being naughty or nice – you know, the kind of comment one makes with a lifted eyebrow and THAT LOOK that speaks volumes, but he was diplomatic and told me not to give up hope… sigh.
There were so many kids at the stops this year that the train was over an hour behind schedule when it finally pulled out of the station headed for Parksley.
Thanks to all the kind folks who donated their time, money and energy to this project. It took a lot of all of that. But the look on those kid’s faces……….. priceless.
Hopefully we will have a new roof on for the Santa Train next year, and a few other new parts on the building. If you would like to contribute to our very worthy cause, we gratefully accept donations. Our mailing address is Onley Train Station, POB 144, Onley, VA, 23418. And I thank ya mightily! SO does Santa Claus! Honest!