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All Aboard SEPTA's Santa Express

Kristin Geiger
SEPTA Press Officer

Elves danced. A band played. Children sang and carried balloons. Everyone cheered as children exclaimed, "Santa's finally here!" Then, quick as a flash, Santa and Mrs. Claus appeared.

It was the 21st year Santa, Mrs. Claus, and elves traveled from the North Pole to ride a SEPTA Santa Express train bound for the Gallery at Market East in Center City Philadelphia. Santa Express trains with elves, music, Santa helpers, face painters and magicians also departed from the following locations; 69th Street Transportation Center (Market Frankford Line), Fern Rock Transportation Center (Broad Street Line), Elwyn Station (Media/Elwyn Regional Rail Line) and Warminster Station (Warminster Regional Rail Line).

Christmas Carols were sung while Santa and Mrs. Claus moved from train car to train car spreading Christmas cheer. Families took pictures and smiled from ear to ear. "Thank-you so much for doing this," one mother said. "This is really a spirit up-lifter. It really is."

Once the trains reached the Gallery at Market East, Santa, Mrs. Claus, elves and hundreds of families marched from all directions toward Santa's throne. When the parade reached its destination, Santa and Mrs. Claus began to countdown and the crowd joined in. As Santa said "ONE!" a loud pop was heard and confetti fluttered everywhere.

SEPTA's Santa Express event takes place on Black Friday utilizing regional rail and subway lines that travel directly into the Gallery at Market East. This makes an ideal start to the holiday shopping season. Many SEPTA employees volunteer on their day off to make the event possible.

Preparation for SEPTA's Santa Express begins in late September. Charlotte L. Brown, administrative assistant for SEPTA's Marketing and Promotions Department volunteered for the Santa Express event in past years. This was her first year as event organizer.

"We had 80 volunteers this year. Our employees and their families really help to ensure the success of Santa Express. It's not uncommon for employees to bring 10 or more family members/friends to volunteer the day of the event," Charlotte Brown said. "I am glad that I can count on their help for such a great event." She gives special thanks to SEPTA employees; Jim Delpriscolli, Pat Darragh, Bill Deboer, Hermione Pinckney, Vaughn Morrison, Dell Williams, Joe Curtin, Jim Kirk, Jim Creedon, Gary Macklin, James Papi and Jerry Griffith.

While planning this year's event, Charlotte met with supervisors of each train line from the five different locations involved in the Santa Express event, ordered items for the goody bags and printed fliers to promote the event.

The volunteers arrive an hour before the departure time to decorate the trains and prepare to distribute goody bags. This year SEPTA filled 2,000 goody bags. Their hard work doesn't stop at the station. As trains arrive in the Gallery, volunteers make sure everyone follows Santa along the parade route.

SEPTA partners with the Gallery at Market East for Santa Express. The Gallery provides items for the goody bags, prints large banners for SEPTA to hang at Santa Express stations and pays musicians, face painters, elves, and Santa Claus. In exchange, SEPTA provides free day passes for the merry characters' travel during the Santa Express event.

"This event is a true testament to wonderful cooperation with the gallery who really gets involved with the promotion of the Christmas season," said Jim Delpriscolli a SEPTA senior advertising specialist. "My family and I attend and volunteer for this event every year."

For the first time in the event's history, passengers riding Santa Express trains received an early Christmas present. Passengers traveled for free courtesy of Constellation Energy. Constellation Energy's Kenny Matula said that the organization was thrilled to team up with SEPTA.

Constellation Energy sells power to thousands of commercial, industrial and government customers in Pennsylvania. The company launched its residential offering in the Greater Philadelphia region this summer.

The event coincided with SEPTA's thanks+giving promotion which gave monthly and weekly transpass and trailpass customers free rides for their traveling companions.

View our video coverage of this year's Santa Express festivities.

Santa and Mrs. Claus cheer as confetti flutters everywhere

Santa waves to the crowd from the upper level of SEPTA's Frankford Transportation Center

Santa, Mrs Claus and one of the elves exit SEPTA's Market Frankford Line to begin parading through the Gallery at Market East.

Santa prepares for a photo-op while riding SEPTA's Market Frankford Line .