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Merriment on the Metrolink

Santa, Rudolph, Frosty and even an alien visit the Santa Clarita Valley aboard Holiday Toy Express

Posted: November 28, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Updated: November 28, 2011 1:30 a.m.

Randy Wolff holds his daughter Madison, 2, on his shoulders as the Holiday Toy Express rolls into the Jan Heidt Newhall Metrolink Train Station on Sunday night.

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While kids for centuries have waited for Santa at Christmas, every year for the last 15 years kids in the Santa Clarita Valley have also waited for the jolly man to arrive ahead of schedule on a train bedecked with wreaths and lights.

At 7 p.m. Sunday, the Metrolink Holiday Toy Express pulled into the train station at Newhall, to whoops and hollers of hundreds who gathered to greet the train.

Kids, many in pajamas, others on the shoulders of moms and dads cheered as the train — lit up like  four well-decorated houses on wheels — came to a stop at the Jan Heidt Newhall Metrolink Station on Railroad Avenue.

“I see elves. I see elves,” screamed 5-year-old Taylor Treahy on the shoulders of her father, Robert.

She was right.

Clambering atop the train were characters instantly familiar to kids in attendance — a snowman, an elf, a polar bear and, of course, Santa Claus.

Every year the costumed characters put on a play, and every year the Treahy family comes out to see it.

This year’s play about an alien in search of his hero — Santa — received huge applause, culminating with everyone singing “Frosty The Snowman,” “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” and “Santa Claus is Coming To Town.”

As a grand finale, two inflatable snowmen emerged — one at the train’s engine, the other at its caboose — while two high-powered snow machines showered everyone in the crowd with dime-sized flakes of snow.

Taylor Treahy and her dad, along with her 6-year-old brother Austin and mother, Stacy, have made the annual Spark of Love Toy Drive a family tradition.

Another young family was just starting their own family tradition. Mark and Elif Schweizer, both wearing Santa hats, said their 2-year-old son, Orion, was anxious to see “Santa and the elves.”

People, like the Schweizers and the Treahy family, arriving at the train station were greeted by volunteers of the Old Town Newhall Association and welcomed with music, candy canes, Christmas carols, hot chocolate, cookies and good cheer.

Cheering the loudest were carolers from the Canyon Theatre Guild and the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society, who sang Christmas carols as the train pulled in.

Donated toys

“It’s going terrific,” said Capt. Mark Savage of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Standing beside a truck loaded with more than a half-dozen bags of donated toys, he said: “The weather couldn’t have been better. It’s been very cold in previous years.

“It’s a great turnout. People are coming out, obviously, here to see the entertainment. More importantly, they know about bringing a toy to support the firefighters’ Spark of Love Toy Drive,” he said.

This year’s event marks the 15th anniversary of the toy drive in its efforts to collect toys for needy families this holiday season.

“The city of Santa Clarita is so proud to have sponsored this event tonight,” said Santa Clarita Mayor Marsha McLean, who appeared atop the train before Santa did.

“I want to remind you that in Old Town Newhall we have some very special Christmas things going on between now and Christmas,” she said.

The Metrolink Holiday Toy Express makes its way down Metrolink tracks across six Southland counties, stopping at 32 cities.

From San Bernardino and Riverside, through Ventura and down the coast to Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties, Santa and his event organizers collect an estimated 100,000 toys at stops along the way.

On one day of the year, the holiday train becomes a 450-ton toy-laden sleigh of sorts — bedecked in Christmas wreaths and 50,000 twinkling lights.

On that day, train whistles give way for holiday music.


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