Hundreds of rosy-cheeked children jumped around, unable to contain their excitement as they waited for the first glimpse of the ONR Christmas Train to turn the corner, headed toward the station.
Lit up with Christmas lights to “Brighten the Night!” the youngsters yelled and screamed as the train pulled closer, with one special passenger on board that they had all come to see, Santa Claus.
Now in its eighth year, North Bay was the final stop on the 13 community tour.
“The crowds have been fantastic. We’ve received very, very warm welcomes right from Moosonee down to North Bay,” said Renee Baker communications manager.
“The Ontario Northland Christmas train is a brightly decorated festive train that rolls into the communities and just helps spread some of that Christmas cheer. So, there is a locomotive, a timber car, a boxcar and Santa’s caboose which is decorated inside and out so children can actually tour through the caboose and check out Santa’s workshop.”
Santa was mobbed by the children as he walked through the crowd, wishing everyone a Merry Christmas.
Teaming up with the event this year was One Kids Place Children’s Treatment Centre, selling light sticks as a fundraiser for the organization.
“The money is going to enhance some of those services that we have in our community that are needed and also for our loan equipment program. So those funds would be used to actually purchase equipment for those families that are in need of equipment that could be thousands of dollars at times,” explains Denis Filiatrault executive director of One Kids Place Children’s Treatment Centre
“Equipment such as wheelchairs, it could be mobility devices, it could be technology devices for children who have communication difficulties that could be used in schools, so we really appreciate this type of fundraiser.”
Waiting for the train’s arrival, people enjoyed free hot chocolate, a close up look at emergency vehicles, students from West Ferris Intermediate and Secondary school handed out free reindeer food and painted Rudolph noses on the children, and a colouring station was set up inside the Station where people went to keep warm.
One popular activity was roasting marshmallows with the firefighters.
This is the second year attending the event for Desiree Carbonneau and her son.
“We like roasting the marshmallows with the firefighters, and we like walking through the train and taking our picture at the front of the engine,” said Carbonneau.
Seven-year-old son Jack Werner was equally excited by the food.
“I’m mostly excited to be here mostly because you get fudge and treats. You get to try three kinds of fudge, whatever ones you like. Maple is delicious. You’ll have to try it,” laughed Werner.
Trevor Myers was concentrating on trying to roast the perfect marshmallow for his seven-year-old daughter Alexis.
“I like the taste. And I like seeing the Christmas train,” said Alexis.
Last year’s experience had them back for a second time.
“We liked the lights on the train for sure and just the Christmas festivities. It gets everybody out. It’s fun. It’s fantastic that the ONR is doing this,” said Myers.