Santa Train becoming new holiday tradition

Wednesday, December 20, 2017
A very special guest made an appearance on the Santa Train that took travelers from Monett to Exeter Sunday afternoon. Santa greeted guests and passed out candy canes, stopping to take photos with youngsters traveling on the holiday express. Melonie Roberts/Cassville Democrat

Families embrace the chance to create holiday memories

Gray, cloudy skies did not dampen the spirits of area residents taking the opportunity to make some new Christmas memories Sunday afternoon as they embarked on an hour-long train journey from Monett to Exeter and back.

Officials with the Arkansas and Missouri Railroad brought their decorated passenger train to Monett so people could have the opportunity to enjoy a trip on the Santa Train. Guests received cups of hot chocolate and sugar cookies, as well as a visit from Santa Claus himself during the hour-long journey.

James Lyman, 2, watched the various activities on the Santa Train that ran from Monett to Exeter on Sunday afternoon from the arms of his mother Shannon Lyman. With cookies, hot chocolate and Christmas caroling, the young man had plenty to keep him occupied on the hour-long excursion. Melonie Roberts/Cassville Democrat

“This is our first time on a train,” said Shannon Lyman, who brought her family along in hopes of beginning a new holiday tradition. She pointed out sights of interest to her youngest, James, who divided his attention from the passing scenery outside to the wealth of activities taking place onboard the gently rocking, steel-wheeled iron horse.

Conductor Terry Smith entertained guests with cheerful patter and practical jokes as the train made its way to Exeter, handing out books of Christmas carols so guests could sing along.

“I’ve been working the Santa Train for 12 years,” he said. “Our first weekend of each year, the proceeds are donated to various children’s charities in Arkansas.”

Piers Freiburger, 4, could not contain his enthusiasm Sunday afternoon as train officials and guests started singing Christmas carols on the Santa Train that took travelers from Monett to Exeter. Freiburger entertained family and strangers alike when he started dancing in the aisle of the gently swaying passenger car. Melonie Roberts/Cassville Democrat

Rose Miller, of Pierce City, took her daughters on the excursion, along with her foster grandchildren and adopted grandchildren.

“This is our bonding moment,” she said. “We are celebrating our first Christmas as a family. We are hoping this is the start of a new tradition.”

This past weekend’s proceeds are designated to benefit For the Kids foster and adoptive parent program in Aurora.

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