Christmas happiness rolled in on the wheels of the Virginia Railway Express Santa Trains this weekend.
Thousands of people rode the special excursion trains on Saturday, which departed from Fredericksburg and Woodbridge on the Fredericksburg Line and from Burke and Manassas on the Manassas line.
Hundreds of families lined the streets of Old Town Manassas near the historic Train Depot to board one of the four trains departing from that station; appropriately named Dancer, Comet, Donder and the North Pole Express, respectively.
Once on board, excited children clamored over the laps of their parents to get a glimpse at the big guy himself, Santa Claus, as he made his way through each of the VRE cars for photos and to collect last-minute Christmas wish lists from his young admirers.
It’s a known fact that behind every good man is a good woman; this was certainly the case on the VRE Saturday, as Mrs. Claus followed Santa through the cars with Christmas bells for the children to sound.
Santa’s elves and helpers distributed candy canes, coloring books, hats and vital information about rail safety as part of the VRE’S Project Lifesaver program; one of the key reasons for the Santa Trains, VRE officials said.
Some 7,500 tickets for the event were sold in one day. Online sales began at 9 a.m. on Nov. 28 and by 9:12 a.m., all online sales were completely sold out. Vendor sales closed at many locations before noon and the last tickets were sold by 2:00 p.m. that day.