The Grand Canyon Railway’s annual “Polar Express,” a moonlight journey beginning in Williams that transports passengers to a magical Santa’s village at the North Pole, began Nov. 8 and runs through Jan. 4.
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[/quote_box_left]Fr. Kilian McCaffrey, the soon-to-be-installed pastor of St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Williams, was among this year’s first passengers.
“A lot of parishioners were there,” Fr. McCaffrey said. “Everybody was dressed in their pajamas and slippers and hats.”
The mood on board the train was festive, he noted. “We went from Williams to the North Pole. Apparently we went through Canada to get there,” Fr McCaffrey quipped. “They didn’t have a duty free shop which made me a bit suspicious of the whole thing.”
Railway staff serves hot chocolate and cookies to the passengers as they make their way to Santa’s village, enjoying light shows as they go.
“It was wonderful. They use light tunnels, blue lights and red lights and the kids scream and cheer and they tell the story of the Polar Express as we go along,” Fr. McCaffrey said, referring to the classic “Polar Express” movie and children’s book.
Williams, a northern Arizona town about 40 miles from Flagstaff, receives thousands of visitors each year who want to take the one-hour ride known as the Polar Express. Fr. McCaffrey is hoping that some of them will take part in either the Saturday evening Mass at 5 p.m. in English and 7p.m. in Spanish or the Sunday morning Mass at 8 a.m. at St. Joseph the Worker.
Fr. McCaffrey lauded the festive, family-oriented atmosphere of the train ride experience.
“It was amazing,” Fr. McCaffrey said. “On the way back we sang Christmas songs and they had a wonderful star of Bethlehem streaking across the sky.”