All aboard the Jingle Bell Express

Published: Nov. 25, 2018 at 6:16 PM EST
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Families over the weekend hitched a ride on the Jingle Bell Express, ready for a Christmas adventure.

The train ran between Burlington and Charlotte, making five trips in two days.

Aboard the train, people sang carols, hung out with special guests like Donald Duck and read Christmas stories. Santa left most of his reindeer at the station and hopped on board to find out what toys to get the passengers.

The children enjoyed cookies and time with family.

"It will almost bring you to tears because they're smiling and they're grinning from ear to ear. And they're having a great time," Conductor Steve Shover said.

Shover helped start the Jingle Bell Express six years ago to raise money for families staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Burlington.

The $25 donation helps cover a family's two-night stay when their children are treated at the hospital. The actual cost of staying at the Ronald McDonald House is about $80, but families are only asked to pay $10. Sometimes, that charge can be too much of a financial burden. For the last two years, the organization tried to raise $100,000 through the Jingle Bell Express fundraiser.

"But when you only have 'X' amount of tickets to sell, it's kind of hard to get to that goal," Shover said.

Having sponsors certainly helps, but the fundraising has fallen short both years.

But there's always next Christmas season.