Nostalgia reigns supreme at the village

Published 3:03 pm Friday, December 15, 2023

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The Southampton Ag & Forestry Museum’s annual Polar Express Nostalgic Christmas gathering drew large numbers of people from the area Saturday, Dec. 2, and people also came out for the scaled-down second day of the event Saturday, Dec. 9.

Denise Wlodyka, who was the chairperson for the event, sent out an email late on Dec. 2, thanking everyone who helped make the first night of Polar Express Nostalgic Christmas possible.

“It was another great event,” she stated. “Preliminary estimates are that we had between 900 and 1,000 people attend, despite the weather.”

Puddles populated the ground in certain parts of the Southampton Heritage Village due to intermittent rain that helped shape the day.

“Over 300 of the attendees were kids,” Wlodyka stated. “We had over 60 volunteers. We received a lot of food donations for Bags of Hope!”

People were admitted to the event for a small per-person fee or a non-perishable food item set to be donated to the Bags of Hope local food bank.

The Dec. 2 gathering included the Polar Express and Christmas model trains; train rides for children, navigating through the decorated Heritage Village on the Son-beam Express; an opportunity to visit and be photographed with Santa and Mrs. Claus; cookies and hot cocoa; old-time tree decorating; a campfire; a Nativity with live animals; special appearances by favorite Christmas characters; hot dogs, chips and drinks for sale and more.

At the Dec. 9 event, attendees were able to walk around the Heritage Village to see the lights, and the model trains were also running.

“We had close to 100 people on the second night,” Wlodyka stated. “It was a beautiful evening with the candles and Christmas lights providing the ambiance. Everyone enjoyed the peaceful walk through the village, and of course, the model trains were a big attraction. It was a much more subdued atmosphere than the first night, but those who attended commented on how beautiful everything looked.”

Joining Wlodyka on the committee that orchestrated Polar Express Nostalgic Christmas were Hope Pittman, Renita Snyder and Al Briggs. 

And Wlodyka added that “we can’t do any of it without all of the wonderful museum members and volunteers who pitch in to help. By my count, it’s over 70 people.”