Sheridan: What's It Like on the CTA's Holiday Train?

Holiday Train Photo A random "elf" peeks out of a door on the holdiay train at the Red Line Belmont stop.
The "elves" greet passengers as they board the train and give treats to children.
(Photos by Mike Reilley)

Sheridan Stop GraphicThe Red Line Project

Posted: Friday, Dec. 16, 2011

Blinking lights, tinsel, campy holiday songs and, of course, Santa.

Just another day at the mall? No, just another day aboard the CTA Holiday Train.

2011 marked the 20th year for the holiday train, which has become a tradition for many CTA riders, particularly those with small children. 

According to Huffington Post Chicago, the tradition began in 1992 when a "Season's Greetings from the CTA" sign was affixed to the front of a train delivering food to charities. The train first carried the passengers in 1996, according to the story, and has been a holiday fixture for those riding the El ever since. 

The train features lighting and holiday decorations inside and out, with the words "Seasons Greetings" in twinkling lights outside of some cars. Inside, people dressed as elves greet passengers and hand out candy and other treats to children as they board the train.

But the star of the show is, of course, Santa.

Crowds form around the outdoor car that features a real-life Santa sitting in his sleigh. On one chilly December night, he had three CTA workers assisting him during the sub-freezing ride.

The holiday train runs a limited schedule on the Red, Blue, Brown, Purple, Pink, Green and Yellow lines throughout the holiday season.

View a photo/video slideshow of recent trips aboard CTA holiday trains on the Red Line:


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