We’re assuming this one won’t be delivering coal. The annual holiday display inside the Volunteer Park Conservatory has a new feature this year that you’ll be able to enjoy starting Saturday — as soon as senior gardener David Helgeson gets done playing with it.
A replica “standard gauge” model train begins trundling through the poinsettia-filled Conservatory wing this weekend. Santa will be there to help send it on its way.
“We are also set up to allow children to be ‘engineers’ and take the train for a spin or two,” Audrey Meade of the Friends of the Conservatory group tells us. “There are actual lights, bells and whistles that help set the stage for little imaginations to run wild.”
The group is raffling off a smaller train in the gift shop to help raise funds to support the seasonal to display which includes 350 poinsettias and trees decorated with more than 6,000 lights.
The train’s travels will begin on a busy Saturday in the park. The morning brings a planned release of a rescued snowy owl back into the wild. It’s also been a busy year for the Conservatory as new admission charges will kick in to help cover the budget crunch that has threatened the one *hundred*-year-old park’s facility. There’s also a new Friends of the Conservatory executive director in the mix as Stephen Hall has stepped in.
Meanwhile, the newly formed Volunteer Park Trust also has a big holiday celebration planned for December 13:
First Annual “Holiday In Volunteer Park” Celebration
When: Thursday—December 13, 6-8 p.m.
Where: Volunteer Park, 1247 15th Ave. E, on the concourse between the water tower and the Conservatory.
What: A fun, free, family-friendly holiday celebration with carols and music performed by nine choral groups. Enjoy complimentary holiday treats and drinks. There will also be a stunning display of more than 300 holiday lights and luminaria.
The Conservatory’s full holiday calendar is below:
*December 7: 5- 8 pm, is the Holiday Open House. Fun with your FOC friends and the holiday display debut. All new and current FOC members will enjoy 25% off in the Gift Shop!
*December 8 & 9, Santa will be in the Seasonal House, 12 – 3 pm, Bring your own camera for photos. Free. ($5 suggested donation).
*Bill McJohn is entertaining us again this year with his harp. Bill will be Seasonal House 3 Sundays in December: the 2nd, 16th & 23rd from 1- 2 pm.
**And, new this year, a Lionel train will be circling the Seasonal House villages. December 7th thru January 1st. This is a hands-on opportunity for kids to run the train and blow the whistle on weekends.