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Holiday Train an assault on the senses

In riding the CTA's Holiday Train, one has to be prepared for a bombardment of sight, sound and imagery.

And it helps not to be claustrophobic.

A few friends of Tattler took me up on my offer to meet-up on last Saturday's Holiday Train. (Thanks guys, great to meet you!)

We got on the first car at Roosevelt, which was already filled with families and kids of all ages. There was a general buzz in the car -- a good, Christmasy intoxicating buzz.

Elf ad Elves, dressing the part in elaborate costume, handed out candy canes to every person who boarded at every stop. Two elves staffed every car -- 12 elves total. Santa's sleigh took up the spot for car 3 and 4 of the eight-car train. They are paid CTA employees, but there were other unpaid employees on board who were volunteering their time.

In my car, most of the windows were covered by decorations and exterior signs. In place of ads ringing the top of the car were seasonal joke ads and generally bad jokes.


After awhile, it seemed like the adults were enjoying the ride the most, and the kids got bored after awhile. On a train Martha was on, her godchild remarked that one of the "ads" didn't make any sense, when it actually was a joke a little over her head. A bad joke.

Some highlights were watching the faces of riders on the platform as it pulled into the station. We saw a mix of wonderment, joy, astonishment and downright confusion. One woman hesitated to board because she didn't think it was a "regular" Brown Line, despite the best efforts by the motorman to convince her otherwise.

Finally, we exited at Belmont and I dashed down the platform to get photos of Santa on the open car/sleigh. It looked like a paparazzi lineup. And no one hassled any of these photographers.

We all had a great time afterward over drinks and conversation.

Here's the schedule for the final weekend (through Tuesday) of the Holiday Train. Check it out.


I love riding the Santa train and enjoyed it this year on the Blue line. I take my kids each year and invite other families to join us each time. Thanks for the nice description of your ride, definitely worth checking out.

My son (20 mos) and I rode it from State/Lake all the way to Kimball last Friday evening. It was funny how many commuters who were waiting on a Brown Line train were reluctant to step on - despite the elves announcing the train at each stop as well as the operator, so it was pretty spacious until Fullerton. The music was OK but I liked the holiday inlays for the seats best of all.

It was so bloody cold that Santa had icicles in his beard by the time we got to Kimball, despite his heated sleigh. There was such a crush of people waiting to board and take pictures with Santa that commuters getting off had to either push through the crowd or wait about 10 minutes to get past the mob - we arrived on Track 3 (or whatever the easternmost track is) so there was limited platform space.

Ron Huberman was riding with his own CTA Holiday Train monogrammed jacket (along with a couple of handlers), but by the time I pulled my camera out all I could get was a picture of his backside.

Anybody know if Kreusi ever rode the Holiday Train? RonH seems to be making at least one run on each line.

as promised, a picture of the now-functional new digital signs at 47th: http://flickr.com/photos/shesgotmoxie/3116640812/in/pool-chitransit

I know this has nothing to do with the Santa Train (great pics!), but this is hilarious and topical.


Apparently in NY, someone tried to throw a shoe at the MTA chief at a public meeting.

When I read the City Room blog post this morning, I had visions of KevinB at the next CTA Board meeting. I immediately banished the visions because I didn't want to dampen the Holiday Train spirit still dancing in my head.

Thanks again for planning the fest this weekend, Tattler Kevin. A good time was had by all despite the dreaded Wrigleyville Santa infestation. We should have another excursion sometime. While riding up to Howard on Sunday, I saw the Red Line Tap and thought that the Tattlers need to institute a program of TOD, except that it would be Transit-Oriented Drinking instead of Transit-Oriented Development.

Martha, I like the way you think. Chalk me up for Transit-Oriented Drinking. Speaking of which, I just learned of the Flossmoor Station Brewery (http://www.flossmoorstation.com/), which is apparently 'steps' from the Flossmoor Metra stop. I had to look up where the heck Flossmoor is and it does seem pretty way out there for a quick jaunt, but I thought I'd throw that out there. :)

Completely off topic, but Thursday, Dec. 18, some damn fool driver of a 147 made at least two wrong turns & managed to get the articulated bus stuck on the 7200 block of Wolcott this morning. I saw it there at 7:15 & it was gone at 8:15.

Wolcott? How'd a 147 get way out there? I assume the driver was on his way to or from the garage and took a little adventure?

Rogers is closed off from Clark to Ridge for all but local traffic. The 290 is currently detoured onto Clark & Touhy until what appears to be sewer work is done on Rogers.
My guess is that the driver was heading back to North Park & forgot that Rogers was closed & compounded the error. But that's an odd hour [7:15 AM] to be returning to the garage, so I wonder if it was one of the porters picking up a broken bus at Howard that didn't know about the detour.

Naw, I wouldn't throw my shoes..

However, I might organize an act of "civil disobedience" by coordinating a group that threw shoes so that the likelyhood that any one person could be blamed/arrested/charged would be small.

Imagine a whole cloud of shoes aimed squarely at either Carole or Ron...now that thought gets me in the Holiday spirit! It would make my sole(sic) proud :)

Ho, Ho, Ho!


Yes, Kruesi rode the Holiday train, started the Brown Line project, and did many other things. Stayed too long. So far Huberman has spent all grant dollars to battle speed-zones, paid $800,000 for someone to lease out dilapidated properties in a down RE market, and hired all his former city associates as $100,000+ employees. You go Ronnie.

Golly, Jim. I wanted to know if Kreusi rode the train because I was only remotely aware of its existence before last year, so I never paid attention to it or who might have been on it.

No value judgment was implied about anything that happened during Kreusi's tenure, nor was there any positive endorsement of the current administration just because Huberman's been sighted with Santa a few times. Happy Holidays!

So ... I got laid off yesterday. And I thought, you know, I'd like to take the Santa Train to cheer me up on the way home before telling my wife.

I checked the schedule online and arrived at Quincy, then waited 15 minutes while one non-Santa train after another went by. Getting cold, I finally gave up and took the next brown line home.

Just after I got home, our downstairs neighbor came in to borrow some spices, and we found out that he had just gotten a raise at work -- and took the Santa Train home that night.


Really sorry to hear about your job loss, Tecki. Santa was running about 10 minutes behind schedule yesterday. Too bad you didn't wait because the elves were handing out candy canes by the fistful. It could have been just the cheer you needed. I hope you find a new job in your stocking hung by the chiminy with care.

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