Holiday trolley brings cheer to commuters

    Every so often, while waiting at the underground platform, a trolley comes through the tunnel dressed up like a Christmas tree.

    You know that the holidays have arrived in Philadelphia when the Wanamaker Light Show is up at Macy’s, stores on Walnut Street offer hot cider, and SEPTA runs the Holiday Trolley. The trolley tradition began with one driver who wanted to make things a little more cheery.

    The daily commute can be an ugly business. But every so often, while waiting at the underground platform, a trolley comes through the tunnel dressed up like a Christmas tree. Strung with lights, the interior fluorescent bulbs are colored green and red, and the driver dons a Santa suit.

    Mason: The Christmas music is the icing on the cake.

    That’s Gary Mason, who drives a route 10 trolley. He first started decorating his car 16 years ago because he likes to put on a show. Reactions from passengers, he says, are lovely.

    Route 10 trolley driver Gary Mason.
    Route 10 trolley driver Gary Mason.

    Mason: It makes them forget about what’s troubling them. They start smiling. I feed of that adrenaline. It makes me happy. [honk honk] See? The guy on the El is happy to.

    There are now three holiday cars on different routes in the Septa system, but it’s difficult to predict their rotation. So it’s always a surprise.

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