Christmas Express Draws Thousands
Published December 25th, 2013
It's hard to imagine there would be a Polar Express here in Florida, let alone in the small town of Williston.
But a train whose history can be traced to the days of the Wild West now calls North Central Florida it's home.
This Christmas season, this train has added to it's history as this area's first-ever Christmas Express.
This narrow gauge train used to plow its way through the Rocky Mountains in the late 1800s but now, a hay field is where its tracks are laid.
Besides its historical presence, the locomotive stands out even more with a couple of thousand lights draped on it, and the wonder of this train is what keeps people coming back for more.
"We didn't know there was a full sized train out here in Williston!," said first-time visitor, Megan Conerly.
"He loves trains so we thought it would be a fun, Christmas holiday experience," said Williston resident Celia Westfall.
After languishing in a railroad boneyard for years and then refurbished for theme parks in California, the Kirby family found this train sitting in the woods in the back of an old RV park in Williston.
Since then, they've laid tracks for it on the farm and held a few events this year, with the locomotive as their center piece.
But they say this Christmas Express event has been their most successful ever.
"We've had alot of families that are coming back and they see the progress we're making and it's rewarding to be recognized,"said Daryl Kirby, owner of Kirby Family Farm.
Twelve families from out of state have visited the Christmas Express so far this year, some coming as far as New York and Maryland.
And while a full train took people out for a ride, people can watch a movie while waiting to ride the train.
A live nativity, food and drinks, Santa and Rudolph are all on hand.
It's a dream come true for some, young or old and it's a memory that some will always associate it with a Merry Christmas.
The train will still be running three days after Christmas. For more information on how to get your tickets, visit www.kirbyfarm.com.
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