Polar Express ushers in Christmas season

Published 6:45 pm Thursday, December 22, 2022

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A large crowd of mostly local families enjoyed a step back in time Saturday evening, Dec. 3, at the Polar Express Nostalgic Christmas event hosted by the Southampton Heritage Village/Agriculture & Forestry Museum in Courtland.

“We had 1,061 people through the gate, not including all the many workers,” said Lynda T. Updike, one of the event’s organizers. “We thought that was good, especially since it rained all day…”

She said that some attendees came from as far as Richmond and Dinwiddie County, but most were local people who came with their families, with a notable number of those family members being happy children.

The event afforded them the opportunities to decorate Christmas trees, string popcorn and cranberries, sing Christmas carols, see the model trains inside the museum, ride a train around the village, converse and get a photo with Santa and Mrs. Claus and the Snow Queen, visit a nativity scene including live sheep and enjoy free refreshments, like hot cocoa and cookies.

There was a particularly long line to see Santa Claus.

“That’s always the most popular,” Updike said, “and to ride the train was another line. And once in a while there was a line to come play with the sheep and the two little lambs that were 3 days old.”

She noted that children in attendance kept asking what the little lambs’ names were.

“We would tell them that we hadn’t had time to name them, that they were just 3 days old,” she said. “One was a little boy, and one’s a little girl. But we got a lot of suggestions from kids. One said, ‘Name one Polar and the other Express.’ Somebody said, ‘Name one East and one West.’ They were very creative with their suggestions.”

Santa and Mrs. Claus and the Snow Queen were not the only draws for photos.

“I was very impressed that many parents and grandparents pointed out the baby Jesus in the manger and took photos of their offspring kneeling near it — explaining the reason for the season,” Updike said.

To gain admission to the event, those attending had to pay either a small fee or donate canned goods for charity.

“We got a lot of canned goods for Bags of Hope, which is a local charity,” Updike said.

She noted that the museum collected money that went to Bags of Hope as well.