All aboard the Polar Express

By Dana Griffin

WOONSOCKET, RI- Every year, the Polar Express sets up shop, turning the Woonsocket Train Depot into the holiday–theme adventure originally created by a local author.

The train can take up to 400 people through the Blackstone Valley, which in turn, brings a little boom for local businesses.

In cozy pjs, kids anxiously wait for the conductor to give the word because they know as soon as they step on board the train, they're singing, dancing, and coloring.

The Blackstone Valley Polar Express is modeled after the 2004 animated film based on the children's book written by Rhode Islander, Chris Van Allsburg.

The Blackstone Valley Tourism Council adds something new and exciting each holiday season because many of the families come back each year. With a good time, brings money to the community.

“This year, we'll bring 11,000 people to downtown. So, this is not just about a train ride. It has big ripple effects,” said the conductor, Robert Billington.

Holiday Inn Express also sees that business. Manager, Priscilla Harris said, “They come back full of excitement. I've ever been on the Polar Express, but I felt like I have just because of the stories we get back from the parents. Anything in the city is actually major for the city, so it works out great.”

Patriot's Diner server, Alicia Joyal said, “We see a lot of increase in business people out of town people going to the Polar Express.”

Billington adds, “So we're trying to be more strategic. We haven't done an impact study as of yet but I think that's coming.”

People that live in the Blackstone Valley area have also become a part of the excursion.

This year, the house along the train route with the best holiday decorations and lights, wins tickets to next year's Polar Express.

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