PDT Staff Writer
There was no need to sing “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” Friday morning, as the children from Vern Riffe School found out he has already arrived at the Norfolk Southern Christmas Caboose at the Chillicothe Street business complex next to the Chillicothe Street Viaduct in Portsmouth.
“This is our fourth year with the caboose,” Joe Preston, a Norfolk Southern engineer, said. “It was heading for the scrap yard, but we asked if we could have it. All of the people in Portsmouth came together. We repainted it and we re-did the inside. And like any Christmas, it’s all for the kids.”
The room at the very end of caboose was occupied by Santa, surrounded by Christmas decorations. Those decorations extended down the narrow hallway to the front of the caboose where a fireplace poured out the heat, and Christmas decorations highlighted the mantle.
Within minutes the kids arrived, each excited to spend time on Santa’s lap asking for that special Christmas gift.
“It just seems like it brings out the magic for the kids, and even the older people like coming in and walking through an old piece of history,” Preston said. “This is great, just to see the smiles on their faces and the magic in their eyes. It’s just great and I’m proud to be a part of it.”
Preston said the Christmas Caboose starts in Columbus and this year will go all the way to Norton, Virginia, a total of about eight stops before Santa finally has to head for the North Pole to get about the serious business of delivering gifts to children around the world.
“It’s just a chance to give back a little to the community,” Preston said.
Preston said the public can meet with Santa from 1-7 p.m.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org