By Anne Archer
A vintage 1940s train slowly enters the small Vermont station. Christopher Pop-In-Kins, the top elf waving gleefully, stands alongside his fellow elves. A curious crowd of children and their families wiggle in anticipation.
Here comes The Elf Express.
The Elf Express takes passengers on a one-hour, round-trip train ride from Manchester to Arlington. Once the journey begins, families are treated to a cup of hot chocolate and a cookie. With each sip and bite, inhibitions melt and singing along to the holiday classics becomes irresistible.
This festive holiday event, which takes place December 16 and 17 and begins at the r.k. Miles Depot Station in Manchester Center, Vt., is sponsored by the Manchester Lions Club. All proceeds from this event go to various organizations in the local communities.
“The best thing about The Elf Express,” explains Lions Club member Nikki Dexter, “is being able to have fun with family and friends or whoever you can go with. Drinking hot chocolate, eating cookies and singing along with the Christmas carols.”
During the two-day event, members of the Burr and Burton Academy theater and dance program transform into Santa’s little helpers. The elves show off their talents by performing an original song-and-dance routine created by Jim Raposa and Neil Freebern of Burr and Burton and Jay Kerr of Fort Salem Cabaret.
“The kids can never let their energy down. They are performing for a 360-degree area,” says Raposa, describing the challenges of performing on a moving train.
After the entertaining performance, Santa and Mrs. Claus, who somehow find energy during their busiest time of year, make a surprise appearance. They go up and down the train, stopping in each car for photos and a listen as children share their Christmas lists.
In order to share this holiday memory with your family and friends, large groups are asked to show up 15 minutes before the train departs so they can be seated together.
And, dress for the weather. Even though you will disembark from The Elf Express filled with the warm glow of holiday cheer, it’s still December in Vermont.
If you go
The Elf Express Train Ride
A charity event sponsored by the Manchester Lions Club.
When: Saturday, Dec. 16, and Sunday, Dec. 17.
Departures: Both days at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m. On Saturday only, an additional departure at 4 p.m.
Where: r.k. Miles Depot Station, 670 Depot St.,
Manchester Center, Vt.
Admission: Adults 13 and over, $25; kids 2 to 12, $20; under 2 (lap rider), free.
Benefit: Various organizations in the local community.
Tip: If your child is sensitive to sounds, bring headphones.
Information and tickets: manchesterlionselftrain.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Anne Archer lives in Manchester. She is a regular contributor to the Manchester Journal.