Passengers waving from the North Pole Express.

Hop on board the North Pole Express at the Florida Railroad Museum for a 30-minute ride from Parrish to the North Pole with family and friends beginning on Wednesday, December 1. The North Pole Express will be operating during select dates throughout the month of December with departure times at 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.

When attendees reach their destination, they will detrain at a special North Pole station where many will get an opportunity to experience an array of activities. For instance, crafts, games, open fires, model trains, music, unlimited hot chocolate and more are included in the ticket fare. Santa Clause and all his elves will be waiting at the North Pole too. Children will also receive a special gift from Santa Clause. Ticket prices vary. The entire experience will last close to three hours.

Florida Railroad Museum Events Director Glenn Miley mentioned when the North Pole Express first came here.

“The museum started making trips to the North Pole in 2004, and the event has grown over the years,” Miley said.

Founded as the Florida Gulf Coast Railroad Museum, the Florida Railroad Museum, Inc. was established with the goal to preserve Florida’s railroad history that existed in the 1940s and 1950s. The museum itself consists of exhibits that individuals can ride.

The Florida Railroad Museum operates on a 6-mile line between Parrish and Willow in rural Manatee County. As a side note, this specific railroad line was the first to be built in Manatee County. The trains are operated by the Florida Railroad Museum volunteers, and throughout the year, special weekend events such as this one will occur.

Currently, the museum’s facilities in Willow are being expanded. Repair work and restoration are being conducted as well.

“All in all, our goal with the holiday-themed events would be for people to enjoy the time with their friends and family,” Miley said.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.frrm.org/north-pole-express/. Check out their Facebook page, www.facebook.com/frrm.org. It is open from Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Call 941-776-0906.

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