Jump aboard the Candy Cane Train at the Bath Train Station on Saturday and Sunday and support the Tri-County Literacy program. But reserve your tickets early because this is a popular holiday tradition.

Passengers have a chance to meet and chat with Santa while his elves — local high school cheerleaders volunteering their time with the jolly old guy — pass out cookies and hot cocoa. The ride travels from Bath to Wiscasset and back, and lasts about 90 minutes.

“The Maine Eastern Railroad gives us their trains and decorates them with all kinds of holiday decorations. It always looks wonderful,” said Suzanne Gastaldo, the Adult Literacy Program director at Tri-County Literacy. Tri County Literacy pays a fee for the use of the trains.

The train ride also includes storytellers and live musical entertainment by the Nor’easters Barbershop Chorus.

There are four trips on both Saturday and Sunday. Departure times for both days are at 9 and 11 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m. Each train ride can accommodate 250 people but Gastaldo stressed that people wanting to ride should not delay in getting tickets.

“People need to get their tickets prior to the ride day because we do not sell tickets at the train station,” she said. “We try to let people know we sell out so get your tickets early.”

Gastaldo said the train has a lot of volunteers from the Elks Lodge in Bath as well as the local high school’s cheerleading teams. But there are many others who help out, too.

“The volunteers are amazing. Everyone does a little and it’s great,” she said.

The Maine 3-Railers model train club will be on hand at the train station to keep the kids — and adults — entertained before boarding.

“The Maine 3-Railers come every year to run displays of their (model) trains for the kids. Come early to the station to see the demonstrations. Mrs. Claus will be in the train station to read stories before the ride as well,” Gastaldo said.

All the fun planned for the event supports adult and family literacy in Lincoln, Sagadahoc and northern Cumberland counties. The train ticket sales represent a substantial percentage of the program’s annual budget, which supports basic literacy for adults and families; reading groups for developmentally disabled adults; Fun With Words at the local homeless shelter, and the Read With Me Family Literacy Project offered through local Head Start programs and Bath elementary schools.

And Gastaldo wanted to clarify that this train ride is not just for kids.

“Some people are embarrassed when they call to reserve tickets because they don’t have any kids. But they want to come because they love it so much. Older people get together and enjoy the trip as much as the families with younger children,” she said.

“We’ve been doing this for five years and we sell out every year.”

Staff Writer Wendy Almeida can be contacted at 791-6334 or at:

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