A person wearing a Santa outfit waves from a flatbed railcar.
Now in its third decade, the CTA Holiday Train will travel to every “L” station, with Santa stopping at Midway station on Chicago’s Southwest Side on Tuesday.
Shun Graves/The Daily Northwestern

Gallery: CTA Holiday Train carries Santa, elves to every ‘L’ station

Below-freezing temperatures early this week didn’t stop Santa from riding the CTA Holiday Train’s open-air flatbed railcar around Chicago.

The passenger cars’ exteriors feature multicolor lights and illustrations of Santa, reindeer and other holiday standards. Inside, Christmas songs run nonstop and signs on the walls remind riders that Santa rides the CTA.

Santa isn’t the only North Pole denizen taking the “L” this winter. Employees dressed as elves handed out candy to passengers.

“It was my first time getting on, so I was like, ‘I’ll just wait the two minutes,’” said Chicago resident Gerardo Mayorga, who passed up a regular Orange Line train on Tuesday in favor of the Holiday Train. “And we got on. We just happened to stumble across it.”

After riding toward the Southwest Side, Mayorga said he’d be “sleeping smiling” that night. 

Launched this year on Nov. 24, the train will run on every “L” line, though the Yellow Line remains suspended because of a recent crash. The train also distributes holiday food baskets to organizations across the CTA’s service area, according to the agency.

“We encourage riders to say hello and season’s greetings to CTA employees working at our stations and on our trains and buses, in an effort to support morale and spread Christmas joy,” CTA spokesperson Maddie Kilgannon said in a statement.

The CTA Holiday Train, first launched in 1992, runs on the Purple Line to Evanston on Dec. 6, 8 and 9. A CTA holiday bus runs on Route 97 to Westfield Old Orchard on Dec. 2.

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