The Coast News Group
Santa gets a hug from Brooke, 3, of Carlsbad. Everyone on the train gets one-on-one time with Santa. Photo by Promise Yee
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The Holiday Express chugs into Oceanside

OCEANSIDE – Two Holiday Express trains took off from Oceanside for a round trip of fun on Dec. 12.

Aboard the decorated six-car Coaster trains were families, friends and Brownie Troops, all waiting for a visit from Santa.

Kristina Genia, of Oceanside, was on the train with her three children Ashleigh, 10, Mckayla, 7, and Jackson, 3. She said it’s something they have done every year for the past seven years.

Amy Regardie, of San Diego, said she and her twin daughters Juliette and Elizabeth, 4, are also repeat passengers.

“Last year they said ‘it’s the best ever,'” Regardie said. “I knew we had to come back.”

Once the train started rolling south, on a nonstop ride to the Solana Beach station and back, strolling carolers led songs, and snow princesses visited and took photos with fans.

About halfway through the train ride Santa entered each car, accompanied by an elf, and spent one-on-one time with kids on board. Some boys and girls told him holiday wishes, others gave him a big hug, and all shared in the holiday wonder.

Jessica Williams, of San Marcos, said her daughter Brooklyn, 3, was happy to talk to Santa.

Michelle Console, of Escondido, said her twins Jonah and Julianne, 5, were excited from the minute the trained pulled up to the station.

On board they enjoyed the caroling.

“They joined in singing at the top of their lungs,” Console said.

The two holiday trains held 1,500 passengers. Ticket are priced at $8, so more families can enjoy the event.

“It’s pretty unique,” Ryan Ross, NCTD marketing and communications manager, said. “For a lot of families it’s their first time ever on the train. It’s a great way to introduce them to the Coaster. There’s something kind of magical about that first train ride.”

This year’s Holiday Express sold out within a week of tickets going on sale in mid-November. Due to train schedules there are no plans to expand the ride beyond two trains.

Next year Holiday Express ticket sales will begin in October.