Santa and his helpers, Camryn Blake and Zahara Oosthuyzen, join conductor Hugh Grist for a photo prior to the departure Saturday of the popular Santa Train, a seasonal program of Alberni Pacific Railway for the past 30 years. All seats sold out early for a total of 10 trips over the weekend although they were able to accommodate late arrivals. MIKE YOUDS PHOTO

Port Alberni’s Santa Train breaks attendance record

All 10 runs sold out Dec. 8-9

The Alberni Pacific Railway’s 34th annual Santa Train broke attendance records in 2018 with 1,792 passengers visiting with Santa Claus while riding the train to Kitsuksis Trestle and back.

Members of the Industrial Heritage Society and the railroad ran five runs on each of Saturday, Dec. 8 and Sunday, Dec. 9.

“We had some big numbers this weekend. On Saturday 880 happy passengers rode the train,” Ken Rutherford said. “On Sunday we had even more, with 912 passengers on the train (for a) total of 1792 passengers, which is new all-time record!

“The hot chocolate sales have not been totalled yet but I’m sure we did well.”

More than 40 volunteers helped make the Santa Train happen, from the decorating crew to the train prep and ride crews, Santa and helpers, ticket sellers, cookie makers, Sally Anderson with her flags along the route, and Linda and family on the bubble machine.

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Santa waves to a young passenger prior to boarding the annual Santa Train at the Port Alberni Train Station on Saturday, Dec. 8. The diesel locomotive replaced Rudolph and his fellow reindeer for this run. The two-day Santa Train set a record with 1,792 passengers. MIKE YOUDS PHOTO

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