The following information was provided by Metra:
Operation North Pole shares the magic of Christmas and all the joy it can bring with 60 families who have a child or children suffering from life-threatening or terminal illnesses by taking them on a fanciful trip to the North Pole on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012. This very special Polar Express ride will depart Des Plaines Metra station at 11:15 a.m.
In this their fourth year of delighting families, Operation North Pole is wrapping the exteriors of two Metra train cars, as well as a partial interior, with bright holiday colors and images of Santa’s workshop.
Operation North Pole is the first organization in the Chicago area to wrap a holiday train for the purpose of providing families who have children battling a life threatening illness with the fantasy of traveling to the North Pole to visit Santa Claus. The train cars will remain wrapped for the remainder of the holiday season, delighting young and old as it whisks by on Metra’s Union Pacific Northwest rails this winter.
What a magical trip to the North Pole it will be! The excited families will board the train in Des Plaines. The non-stop journey to Pingree Road station in Crystal Lake will include activities led by Mrs. Claus, the Polar Express Conductor, Candy Cane Girls, and volunteer firefighters from the North Pole Fire Department! At the Crystal Lake station, everyone will be welcomed by members from many of the McHenry County Fire Departments who will provide refreshments, special treats and small presents.
On the return ride to the Des Plaines station, fire departments in the towns along the way will be out with their fire engines and dressed in holiday attire holding up signs with arrows reading “North Pole this way!”
Once back in Des Plaines, the families will board awaiting charter buses and parade with Santa, riding atop a Fire Department ladder truck, to a Winter Wonderland at the Donald E. Stephens Rosemont Convention and Banquet Center. Arriving at the North Pole, they will find the 28,000 square foot south ballroom transformed into a child’s sugar plum dream.
They will discover Mrs. Claus’ Pizza Kitchen, The Pink Penguin Beauty Salon, Prancer’s Popcorn, Frosty’s Soda & Slush, and Lollypop Land with hundreds of donated candies. There will be magicians, face painters, photo booths, cookie decorating, craft making, make-your-own ice cream sundaes and a model train display for all to enjoy.
The topper of the day will be a private visit with Santa! Each child aged 12 and younger will visit with Santa and receive wrapped gifts selected from wish lists they wrote to Santa earlier in August. This is truly a day of magical moments for each family.
Children participating in this incredible day are referred to Operation North Pole by Child Life Specialists from area children’s hospitals and directors from four area Ronald McDonald Houses.
It is a day free from the worry and stress of hospital stays and medical treatments; a day to just be a child at Christmas. With the emotional and financial stresses that a family with a child battling a life-threatening or a terminal illness may face, Operation North Pole makes sure that all of the children in the immediate family participate and share in the joyful festivities. Approximately 150 children will participate this year.
As a nonprofit organization, Operation North Pole relies on the generosity of many to make the magic happen. They host two major fundraising events in which volunteers and supporters are given the opportunity to “adopt” a child for Christmas, fulfilling their wish lists to Santa.
Organizations such as Edison Park Chamber of Commerce, Rosemont Convention Bureau, Transportation Solution Enterprises, LLC, The Dempster Family Foundation and many private contributors have helped with most of the major expenses of this year’s event.
This event relies on the creativity, imagination, and hearts of many volunteers. Timothy Crossin, Treasurer of Operation North Pole, said, “Our organization has grown by more than 100 percent every year since our existence. We intend to continue our growth until we are able to wrap an entire train and fill it with even more families who could use a day away from the daily grind of hospitals, doctors, clinics and treatments.”
For more information about Operation North Pole’s Polar Express ride on Nov. 17, contact Carmen Schmidt, Media Elf, (773) 509-5533, and, to learn more about Operation North Pole visit www.operationnorthpole.org.