In years past, SamTrans sponsored the annual Caltrain Holiday Train.
Although budget considerations forced the suspension of the Holiday Train in 2009, SamTrans has continued to conduct a toy drive. In the 10 years since the toy drive began, SamTrans and Caltrain have collected more than 45,000 gifts for the peninsula’s neediest children.
The Caltrain Holiday Train featured a dedicated train set transformed into a show-train decorated with thousands of lights. The world’s largest toy train visited selected stations, bringing holiday joy and the music of the season.
At each of the train’s 20-minute station stops, people enjoyed onboard carolers and a Salvation Army brass band. Pulled by a Caltrain locomotive, the train sometimes included vintage passenger cars, as well as a “stage car” for performers. At each stop, Santa, Mrs. Claus and their extended family got off the train to greet children and pose for pictures.
Local entertainers performed for families waiting for the arrival of the train at the stations. Model railroad displays at historic stations were opened before and after the arrival of the train.
Weeks before the train made its trips down the peninsula, volunteers were hard at work, attaching the decorations to rail cars and wiring it all together for the dazzling nighttime display.
SamTrans employees were joined by community volunteers to deck out the train, a labor of love that was rewarded by the number of toys that are donated, and by seeing children’s faces light up when Santa arrives on the train.
Hopes are high that the Caltrain Holiday Train will be back next year. Santa’s elves are working feverishly behind the scenes to develop sponsorships and funding partnerships.