Arguably one of the most enjoyable parts of the holiday season is partaking in traditions. One attraction for those in the community that has easily become a tradition for local families is a visit to the Northwest Ohio Railroad Preservation’s North Pole Express event. Offering something of interest for both young and old, attendees are treated to train rides on ¼ scale trains as well as the opportunity to view model trains in holiday layouts in the museum and barn. Older fans often experience a nostalgic return to bygone times, and reminisce about riding the Riverside train when they were young. Younger fans are dazzled by little trains and big decorations.
According to Jim Gabriel, who is vice-president of Northwest Ohio Railroad Preservation and one of the principal developers of the North Pole Express event, “hosting North Pole Express at our museum provides the community with an exceptional holiday display of lights, music, and activities. This event has become a favorite and tradition for many in our community. North Pole Express has become a part of the Ohio Find It Here Holiday Light Trail which has brought interest from all around the state, and we look forward to continuing this relationship.”
Fortunately, the Northwest Ohio Railroad Preservation’s North Pole Express was able to operate during the pandemic, albeit with some adjustments, including some restrictions on the number of riders on each train. Being an outdoor venue allowed them to continue operating during a time when participation in indoor entertainment was scarce, however. Though overall attendance to the North Pole Express has recovered substantially after the last few years, they are not yet at pre-pandemic levels. As more family and friends are looking for a safe and enjoyable place to have fun this winter season the Northwest Ohio Railroad Preservation’s North Pole Express is a wonderful time for all ages.
Jim Gabriel shares how the organization depends on the Findlay community. Because “the museum is an all-volunteer operation, attendance to our special events is our primary fundraiser. We have learned to operate at reduced expense and also have increased our fundraising efforts to offset the reduced attendance of the past couple years. The community has responded to these efforts both with donations to our museum and increased attendance at our events. We are very thankful for this response and hope to continue to attract our supporters with bigger and better events in the future.”
This is the North Pole Express’s 24th season, and its 2nd year on the Holiday Light Trail. The trains are operating on Fridays and Saturdays through December 23 from 5:30 – 9 PM, and Sundays from 5:30 – 8 through January 1 with closures on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Fridays will even feature a visit from Santa Claus. Admission is a very reasonable $4 for adults and $3 for children 12 and under, and tickets can only be purchased there. More information can be found on the Facebook page for Northwest Ohio Railroad Preservation, Inc. or at nworrp.org.