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Santa chooses SEPTA for his holiday ride into Philly

Manuel McDonnell Smith
Public Information Manager

For the 23rd year, Santa ditched his sleigh and chose SEPTA as his mode of transit to deliver holiday cheer to the Delaware Valley. By using the system's different modes of "rail-deer" along Regional Rail and the Market Frankford and Broad Street Lines, children and their families across the region joined a parade of pleasure that poured right into Center City Philadelphia from the far sides of the region.

SEPTA employees assisted Santa by specially decorating both the exterior and interior of the trains for the "Santa Express", and even provided some backup to his elves by stuffing special holiday gift bags filled with toys and trinkets for the kids (and coupons for the parents). "It's hard to tell who enjoys this event more, the SEPTA employees, or the children." said Charlotte Brown, a longtime SEPTA Administrator who takes care of coordinating the event on behalf of the Authority. "Although SEPTA is part of the region's daily commute, it's a delight to be such a central part of kicking off the regions' annual holiday celebrations." she added.

In other cities, people consider the Thanksgiving Day Parade and Black Friday the main events of the start of the holiday season, but in Philadelphia "Santa Express" is also a mainstay of many family holiday routines. In fact, calls inquiring about the special train schedules come pouring into our Customer Service lines as early as October from eager parents and grandparents who want to be sure that their children are on time for the special service.

Even with this year's brisk temperatures, parents and children lined up along the trains' routes for Santa and his helpers to appear on their special trains "Just a few more minutes, the train is coming at 10:00am" said one mother to her eager son who awaited the train's arrival at Frankford Transportation Center. A few minutes later, accompanied by banjoes, flutes, and SEPTA volunteer ambassadors came marching up to the station platform singing holiday tunes as a Market Frankford Line train emblazoned with holiday decor and even a wreath aboard the front the train came rolling into the station. A wall of sing-song and joyfulness greeted passengers at every stop as the train made its way to 11th Street Station, where the crowd was joined by awaiting families from the other Santa Express Trains and the Mummers who led a large, lively parade right to Santa's seat in the main atrium of the mall.

"Sharing the holidays with our passenger family is something we look forward to on this day, and every day of the season", added SEPTA General Manager Joe Casey, who is also a father and grandfather. "If you missed Santa Express this year, you can look out for special holiday greetings that will be displayed on bus digital signs, our customer information displays, and at our transit store at SEPTA Headquarters at 1234 Market Street which also has our holiday-themed model railroads on display every day." said Casey. Even if you're not headed into Center City for your holiday events, be sure to keep a close eye on passenger information announcements about special extended SEPTA holiday schedules to area shopping destinations, and discounts for regular riders at holiday events through our "I SEPTA Philly" program. During this and every holiday season, make SEPTA more than just a trip, make it part of your family tradition, like many others who enjoyed Santa Express.

It was Market Frankford Car #1097's turn leading the Santa Express in 2013.

Crowds of families at FTC eagerly awaited boarding the train and meeting Santa.

With a red nose and cheeks, Santa proudly led the crowd to his special train.

Santa and his elves went aboard each car onroute, singing songs and handing out gift bags.

At the end of Santa's Parade, confetti was dropped from the ceiling to mark the start of the holiday season.