It has been more than 50 years since passenger trains passed through Santa Cruz but this year there will be a special holiday train – "The Train to Christmas Town."
The special train will tool on the railway until Jan. 6 and will leave from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, 400 Beach St.
It is run by the Santa Cruz & Monterey Bay Railway.
Tickets – the price includes hot cocoa and gingerbread cookies – cost $25 for children 2-12 and $35 for teens and adults.
The excursion train is based on the just-published holiday book “The Train to Christmas Town” that tells the tale of a young girl learning to trust in the magic of Christmas through the support of family, friends and a host of characters.
These include a cuddly polar bear named “Bumblebee,” a cat named “Zephyr," birds, a squirrel named "Wabash," elves and Santa Claus.
“We’re thrilled to launch The Train to Christmas Town in Santa Cruz,” said Iowa Pacific President Ed Ellis, who is also husband to the author, Peggy Ellis.
“We operate holiday trains around the U.S. and U.K. and find parents and grandparents enjoy the experience just as much as the the kids. It will become a family holiday tradition.”
Iowa Pacific also operates the passenger trains in Machu Picchu, Peru.
While on the hour-long ride, passengers will hear a retelling of the story of young Janice and her brother Paul as they ride the train to Christmas Town.
Along the way, passengers are served hot cocoa and gingerbread cookies, talk with characters from the book and listen to a new musical score created specifically for the event by four-time Grammy nominated band Trout Fishing in America.
When the train arrives at Christmas Town, -- built in a vacant field near a ranch --Santa and his elves will climb on board, talk with the children, sing Christmas carols and present each child with a special gift.