Austin Dave, SCV News
Warning chimes sounded and the crowd roared at a railroad crossing Sunday night as a thoroughly decorated train pulled into the Jan Heidt Metrolink station. The Holiday Toy Express travels through six counties to collect gifts for the less fortunate and this year, the train has partnered with the 20th annual Spark of Love Toy Drive.
The Spark of Love Toy Drive is collecting toys for Los Angeles County’s 60,000 foster children says Fire Inspector Quvondo Johnson.
“We collect toys for the department of Children and Family Services, which is all of the foster children in the county of Los Angeles,” he said. “We collected toys at all of the fire stations and we have different events to get the toys to those kids.”
Carolers from the Canyon Theatre Guild led the crowd in song as eager children awaited the train’s arrival. The sounds of vibrating steel railroad and a train whistle drew the attention of the hundreds of spectators. The modified Metrolink commuter train, decked out with 50,000 LED and incandescent lights pulled into the station shortly after 7 p.m. A cheer resonated for the jolly bearded man and his crew of toy haulers as they took to the stage for a musical performance.
The holiday characters disembarked from the train to greet and thank the crowd following a ten-minute performance. Snow poured out from the 450-ton train as it rested in the middle of Market Street near Railroad Avenue.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for the children of Santa Clarita,” said Santa Clarita City Councilman TimBen Boydston. “To see the train lit up and Santa Claus on the train and the elves, we’re really happy to do this.”
“It’s great,” said Tyler Zehfuss as he perched himself on his father’s shoulder.
“Snow and Santa and the hot chocolate and all of the toys, its a great time,” said Dan Zehfuss, as he peered up at his son, smiling at the glittering train.
When all was said and done, the locomotive powered up, and moved the train onward with Santa and his crew aboard.