With five and six year old daughters, my wife Sonya and I have found that we’re already called to defend the sanctity of Santa. That’s right. Between kids on the bus, kids at day care, and older kids at school, our girls are already hearing the seven words every parent dreads this time of year. “There’s no such thing as Santa Claus.” So we’re already finding ourselves getting creative. I texted Santa last year. (It doesn’t matter that I simply changed my brother’s phone number and he played along. Santa answered!) This year we decided to take it to the next level: The Santa Train.
If you’re not familiar with Coopersville, Michigan then check this out. The small town of Coopersville is smack between Grand Rapids and the lakeshore. It’s just off I-96 on the way to Muskegon. And there’s an old school train that runs between the town and neighboring Marne. This train offers an adventure for each season. In the summer, you can ride the train and robbers on horseback fight with a sheriff. That’s The Great Train Robbery. In the spring there’s The Bunny Train and in the fall is The Famous Pumpkin Train. You can find a couple other adventures too, but right now we’re talking about The Santa Train.
The Coopersville & Marne Railway calls itself “West Michigan’s All-Volunteer, Historic Railroad” and offers riders the chance to go back in time a bit. Speaking of time, they ask that you’re there early because they leave promptly. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case this time. They ran 15 minutes late, which is tough with a couple of impatient kids. Once off on our journey though, it was pretty scenery and a nice ride. The train rolls through West Michigan fields and over rivers and through the woods. It’s a great little ride and we all enjoyed it.
We were treated to some Christmas music on the ride, and a story from an “Ice Princess.” Miss Coopersville 2011 with her crown and sash stood in as Ice Princess on our ride, and she was great with the kids as she read “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Then Santa came along and the kids went nuts. Santa said hi and shook the hands of every kid in every seat on the train car. They were so happy and excited to see the man in the big red suit; it was magical. Then he took time to have each child sit on his lap for photos from persistent parents and giggling kids, while they gave him their Christmas wishes. At the end of lap time, Santa’s elf handed each kid a little stuffed animal. And as Santa exited the train he took time again to talk to each kid. It was pretty cool.
In all it was a great experience for the kids – they absolutely loved it. For about $14 per adult and $11 per kid it’s a decent adventure for the price. We had a great time, and it’s definitely a cool seasonal event, and something a family should do at least once! What’s great is that we took the trip on Small Business Saturday, too! You can find more information on the website for Coopersville & Marne Railway.
Get to it soon though! The Santa Train only runs now through December 18th on Saturdays and Sundays. ~Dan Moyle, Contributing Writer