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Local

Holiday Light Train lights up families’ faces

Sycamore resident Terry Gauger (left) and his daughter Mya ride the Holiday Lights Train in Waterman on Sunday.
Sycamore resident Terry Gauger (left) and his daughter Mya ride the Holiday Lights Train in Waterman on Sunday.

WATERMAN – For 9-year-old Mya Gauger, the holiday season didn’t start until she took a ride on the Holiday Light Train in Waterman.

The Sycamore resident took two trips around Lions Community Park Sunday, as the annual holiday attraction kicked off the first weekend of its 18th year.

April Gauger said she’s taken her family to ride the train for at least the past five years.

“It’s an easy way to entertain your kids, and it doesn’t cost a lot of money,” she said.

All it cost the Gauger’s on Sunday was the gas it took to drive from Sycamore to Waterman. Pete and Charleen Robinson, who run the train each year, said they prided themselves on being able to offer a free, family-friendly way to celebrate the holidays.

Not only that but riders get to enjoy free popcorn and hot chocolate while they wait for their train to show them the dozens of light displays – many of them handmade by Pete Robinson.

With rainy weather, Charleen Robinson said the first weekend of the season was a little slow – which isn’t unusual even in agreeable weather, because Santa Claus hadn’t arrived yet.

But the weekend already created a few happy customer stories they will share throughout the month.

“We had a little boy last night – 2-and-a-half-years-old – rode in every seat of the train in the rain,” Pete Robinson said.

“Drove his parents crazy,” Charleen Robinson said with a laugh.

Gauger said her daughter was similarly enthusiastic – pleading with her parents to ride the train after they set up their Christmas tree and holiday decorations this weekend.

But getting those reactions is what keeps the Robinsons coming back to Lions Park every year with the homemade train and holiday light display.

It’s also provided them, Pete Robinson said, with an endless supply of stories of parents and children interacting with Santa and riding the train over and over again to last them another 18 years.

Santa is scheduled to arrive at the train Friday at 6 p.m. Kids can visit him each day the train is operating through Dec. 23.

The Holiday Light Train is open Dec. 2-4, 9-11, 16-18, and 22-23. Friday hours are 5-9 p.m., Saturday hours are 4:30-9 p.m. and Sunday hours are 4:30-8 p.m.

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