CHRISTMAS KICK-OFF: There is a bit of sighing over the fact that festive ornaments and red-and-green lights and plastic reindeer for the front lawn show up on our store shelves weeks ahead of Halloween, but the sighing ceases when Halloween is done. Once the skeletons come down from the front door we're in the clear to hang our wreaths and our stockings and whatever seasonal bunting and swag we like. Thus the timing was very good for the Irvine Park Railroad's big on-sale announcement, which arrived just hours after Halloween came to a creaky close: Tickets for the Christmas train, a true Orange County kid tradition, are now on sale.
THIS DOESN'T MEAN THE TRAIN... is quite choo-choo-ing just yet -- that would be a little fast, even with the "early November is okay for holiday stuff" rules we're working with. But it does mean you can secure your ticket for the weekend following Thanksgiving, if you've got the grandparents in town and you're all looking for a fine way to get out of the house and snap some photos for the holiday cards. It's sure to be a busy one, thanks in large part to be the 19-year-old railroad's opening weekend (well, opening for the Christmas Train).
SO WHAT'S ON THE CHRISTMAS TRAIN? Well, cheer, obviously, but Santa Claus is a major draw, as is the nearby Christmas Tree Farm. The night ride features the Tunnel of Lights, and more yuletide-cute details, including a Santa's Village area. So stow the jack o'lantern decorations and the fake ghosts and orange candles: Kris Kringle is pulling into the Irvine Regional Park for photos and kid-cute chitchat. That you get to board a tot-sweet train, too, the better to up the general seasonal merriment, is the icing on this particular gingerbread.
THE CHRISTMAS TRAIN... at Irvine Park Railroad runs each evening from Nov. 27 through Dec. 23.