St. Nick loves the Santa Train

<I>File Photo</I><BR>The Santa Train is a favorite for children during the Wallowa County holidays. The 90-minute ride costs one can of food and reservations are encouraged.

In a recent conversation with St. Nicholas, he admitted that he likes to let his hair down a little on the annual Santa Train that runs in Wallowa and Union county every Christmas season.

This year the train will take off, loaded with kids (and accompanying parents and adults), at 9 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 14, from Wallowa for a 90-minute ride to Lostine and back. The holiday runs are hosted by the Wallowa Union Railroad and Friends of Joseph Branch, with help from area sponsors.

The Santa Train also plans to make three runs the day before the Wallowa excursions, Sunday, Dec. 13, starting in Elgin for Union County passengers.

"I'm not the ordinary Santa (on the train)," Mr. Clause confided to the Chieftain. "I teach the kids the chicken dance, and I go to them, instead of them coming to me. Sometimes its so full, I don't even have a seat to sit down."

Santa loves riding the rails, and said privately, "The Santa Train is my favorite thing to do."

The cost to ride the train is only one can of food for the food bank, but since seating is limited to 180 riders per run, reservations are necessary. Everyone is encouraged to call early, 886-3200. Children must be accompanied by an adult on the holiday ride.

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