On Centre: Around Bellefonte | Santa Express ready to hit the tracks

As the popularity and awareness of the Santa Express in Bellefonte grow, the tickets sell that much faster.

The Bellefonte Historical Railroad Society put tickets up for sale in the middle of October, and they were sold out by the second week of November, treasurer Andy Richards said.

It was the fastest they have ever sold out.

Each of the 11 weekend rides between Dec. 20 and Dec. 22 will last about an hour and include a reading of “The Polar Express” and visits from Santa Claus and other holiday characters.

The weekend marks the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Railroad Society, and it’s always enjoyable for the volunteers, Richards said.

“We’re all train buffs, so we enjoy being on the train no matter what,” he said.

“It’s a lot of work to put on the event, but it’s also a lot of fun.”

Profits go toward funding the Railroad Society’s historic restoration projects.

The route goes from Bellefonte toward Pleasant Gap near the fish hatchery and then turns around back to the station, Richards said.

After the ride, children and families have a chance to take photos with the holiday characters on or off the train.

Richards said it gets a little messy if there is snow on the day of the rides, but people normally like a little snow on the ground to add to the scenery.

“It’s always nice to have snow on the ground for a pretty ride,” he said.

And if anyone is set on not missing out on a Christmastime train ride, the Railroad Society is directing people to two other Joint Rail Authority-sponsored events.

There will be similar rides in Sunbury on Friday and Sunday and in Williamsport from Dec. 13 to Dec. 15, he said.