All aboard the Holiday Lights Express

    For the homes that run parallel to the tracks of the Wilmington and Western Railroad, the decorations in the back yards are what count.

    Taking a tour of your neighborhood by car is one way to see the lights people spend so much time untangling to create the best display their extension cords will allow.

    click to enlarge
    click to enlarge

    But for the homes that run parallel to the tracks of  the Wilmington and Western Railroad, the decorations in the back yards are what count.

    Passengers on the Holiday Lights Express can buy tickets to board a 1929 Doodlebug rail car, decked out in  lights of its own.

    The train is totally decorated and when the thing goes across the road like on 48 or Faulkland Road the cars just come to a halt to see this gigantic train that it totally decorated, and it comes out of the dark,” Mike Ciosek, Wilmington and Western Railroad volunteer, said.

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    Then passengers see the light displays along the rail line that started in 1867, primarily to haul freight along Red Clay Creek to the Port of Wilmington.  Eventually 20 miles of tracks ran between Wilmington and Landenberg, Pennsylvania.

    Dorothy Chambers of Newark made it a part of a Friday night out for her family.   “You can get lost in the hustle and bustle and this is a time to  just to enjoy and bring in the sights and just  remember what Christmas is about,” Chambers said.

    This holiday season The Wilmington and Western Railroad offered more days for people to take the lights tour, both before and after Christmas.  The non-profit has learned to capitalize on every time of year by offering fall foliage tours, an Easter Bunny train, along with the Santa and holiday lights express.

    “It’s more family oriented, so they can go out to dinner then come out and run the train. That’s what we’re trying to do is sell fun and family enjoyment.”

    Once the tour is finished, passengers are invited to cast votes for their favorite displays back at the station.  The winners will get prizes such as a private ride on one of the rail cars or cabooses.

    The Holiday Lights Express runs through December 30.

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