HELENA — While a train that ran from Helena to Townsend on Thursday looked pretty ordinary on the outside, inside students from Warren Elementary School were getting the chance to re-enact the "Polar Express."
Montana Rail Link (MRL), the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, and Missoula Children's Theater (MCT) put on the production and in just their third year of doing so, MRL’s Andy Garland said it’s one of the best parts of the year.
“Just kind of a fun event that we try to do every year at a location that runs across our system somewhere. Obviously, we had to take a break last year due to COVID. So we're excited to get back up and running this year,” said Garland.
MCT member Linnea Connery — who’s done the performance every year it’s run — says it’s always a delight to see the kids light up every time they board the train and move between cars.
“The best experience, kind of happens every year," said Connery. "You see the kids when they come on the train, they're just blown away by it because it's just — it's a truly Magical Christmas Train and they feel like they're heading to the North Pole and that's really special.”
The event features key parts of the Polar Express story including caroling, hot chocolate, and a visit from the one and only Santa Claus himself, and coupled with the event, the giving doesn’t just go to the children. The foundation also donates to a local children's organization in the area.
This year, ExplorationWorks was awarded the $10,000 donation.