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Transportation Museum to host festive train ride, drive-thru light show to celebrate holidays

SPENCER — The North Carolina Transportation Museum has unveiled its plans for the 2020 holiday season, announcing a festive “Candy Cane Train” ride and a drive-thru light show experience.

Starting on the weekend of Nov. 20, the historic locomotives and equipment at the North Carolina Transportation Museum will be illuminated by thousands of colorful holiday lights that visitors can enjoy while driving through a 1.25-acre route in their cars.

“We’ve created a new drive-thru experience this Christmas where the entire 60 acres is going to be lit with Christmas lights like it has never been before,” said Mark Brown, the museum’s information and communication specialist. 

Even though the museum’s popular Polar Express event was canceled this year due to COVID-19, Brown said that the museum still wanted to host a holiday event. Similar to other local holiday festivities like the ‘Tis the Season Spectacular Christmas parade, Brown said that the museum decided on a drive-thru model that would allow visitors to remain socially distanced.

“We’re going to be giving people a way to experience the museum one way or the other,” Brown said. “It’s just a matter of what precautions and restrictions we have to operate under as to how we’re going to do that. But one way or the other, we’re there and you’re going to have a way to be involved in this museum.”

After driving through the light display, visitors will be able to visit a satellite gift station available at the museum’s newly acquired 1950s automotive garage. Santa Claus will greet visitors in the gift shop and there will even be the opportunity for visitors to roast s’mores over an open fire.

The drive-thru experience will cost $8 per car or $15 for 12-15 passenger vans, mini-buses or shuttle buses. Museum members will receive a special voucher to go through the holiday event free of charge. The dates for the light show are Nov. 20-22, 27-29, Dec. 4-6, 10-13, 15-23, 26-30.

Although the Transportation Museum won’t be able to host its popular Polar Express event this year, the museum’s staff still wanted to provide a festive activity for its visitors. Photo submitted.

Along with the drive-thru light show, the Transportation Museum will be offering rides on its “Candy Cane Train” on weekends from Nov. 21-Dec. 20.

The holiday-themed train ride will take visitors on a from-the-rails tour around the museum’s grounds. Following the train ride, visitors can enjoy hot chocolate and cookies in the 1905 Back Shop, which will be decorated for the season and will feature a model train and music.

The Candy Cane Train will be available Nov. 21-22, 27-29 and Dec. 5-6, 12-13, 19-20.

Admission and a train ride ticket is $14 for adults, $12 for seniors and military as well as $10 for children 3-12. Ages 2 and under who will ride on the lap of a parent or guardian are free.

In accordance with COVID-19 considerations and health orders, cloth face masks are required on the train, in exhibit buildings, in the gift shop and anywhere social distancing of at least 6 feet is not possible. Enhanced cleaning protocols have been implemented on the train and throughout the site. Museum capacity is limited to 50% of full occupancy.

Everyone who rides on the train will receive a complimentary candy cane. More information on the N.C. Transportation Museum’s holiday events can be found at www.nctrans.org.

Along with stringing lights on the buildings, the North Carolina Transportation Museum will offer festive train rides around the complex. Photo submitted.

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