Holiday Out with Thomas

A certain tank engine is toot-toot-ing to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

THOMAS AND THE BEACH: We are not especially wee and we are not a tot, so forgive us if we get this wrong. But when we think of Thomas the Tank Engine and his locomotive, riding-the-rails buddies, we think of English countryside, of pastoral backdrops and moors and such. So the idea of the quintessential British train heading for a sunny California beach charms us to bits. And that he should be dressed in boughs and swag and other decorations of the season? The charm factor only goes up. That's what's on now and through the next few weekends at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. The event is called "Holiday Out With Thomas" and a round-trip ride from the boardwalk (total ride time: twenty-five minutes). Roaring Camp Railroads is playing host to the famous, rail-riding celebrity.

MORE SEASONAL SWEETNESS: Carols and a souvenir songbook are part of the ride, so tell the little ones that there shall be singing. There shall be candy canes, too, and that famous deliverer of candy canes himself, Santa Claus. And because the boardwalk is in the mix, a ride on the historic carousel is included in the train ticket. A ticket is $24 for ages two and up.

NOW ABOUT THOMAS... This isn't the kind of thing where the name of a toy or a cartoon is added to something else. Thomas will actually be at the front of the train, all blue and smiley, so plan on a few photos. If we were a tot again, and wee, and saw the tank engine on a train we were about to ride, well. We'd probably briefly lose our cool, in the best sense. If you've got a Thomas fan in the house, this is exciting stuff. Dates are every Saturday and Sunday from Dec. 8 through 23.

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