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Photo: MICHAEL STRAUB, License: N/A, Created: 2016:12:03 13:59:49

Kids await the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus.

There isn’t a lot of traffic on the old railroad right-of-way north of Scranton that leads right through the heart of the Mid- and Up-valley. But on Saturday morning, you may hear a train blast or two as a rare passage up the line is made, headed toward the North Pole (or thereabouts), to pick up a special passenger.

In the afternoon, it will head back down that same route, and this time it will make five stops in our area.

Officially, it’s known as “Christmas in a Small Town.” But most people just call it The Santa Train. This will be the 21st year the train has made that special run, delighting thousands of kids of all ages.

A special train (sorry, no riders), with Santa himself standing on the front of the train (and at some stops he’s joined by some other inhabitants of the North Pole) will chug into five valley towns on Saturday, Dec. 2. At each station, Kris Kringle wades into the crowds that have gathered, shakes hands, poses for photos and generally kicks off the holiday season.

Each community adds its own special touches. Every stop has live entertainment, food and lots of holiday cheer. Volunteers from each town along Santa’s route work diligently to make their celebration a special one.

Many of the towns have built or refurbished their train stations — which most of the time stand empty and unused — for this and a handful of other events each year.

• The first stop is the Carbondale station (10:30 a.m.), Mill Street and Trinity Place. After Santa arrives, a horse-drawn carriage escorts guests from the train station to Carbondale’s City Hall for a holiday party.

• At the Archbald station (11:35 a.m.), Pike and Cherry streets, while the Valley View High School Band plays seasonal favorites, Santa and Mrs. Claus settle in to hear the requests of a long line of youngsters. The celebration also includes food and refreshments, such as hot dogs, hot chocolate and cookies.

• At the Jessup station (12:20 p.m.), Church and Delaware streets, the train will arrive in the midst of the Jessup 21st Century Association’s 20th annual “Christmas Happening.” Children will be busily making arts and crafts, assisted by Valley View High School students, there will be live music, and of course Santa and Mrs. Claus will hold court in the special North Pole gazebo.

• At the Olyphant station (1 p.m.), Lackawanna and North Valley avenues, Santa will greet the crowd and then lead them in a souped-up sleigh to a special holiday party.

• At the Dickson City station (1:45 p.m.), Boulevard Ave. and Morgan Street, Santa and Mrs. Claus will visit with youngsters, while parents munch on the refreshments and enjoy live music.

All activities are free. The project is a gift from the Lackawanna Heritage Valley National and State Heritage Area in partnership with Steamtown National Historic Site. But a number of other organizations help make it happen, including the Delaware Lackawanna Railroad, Pennsylvania Northeast Regional Railroad Authority, the City of Carbondale, the Carbondale Business Association, Archbald Borough, Jessup Borough, Jessup 21st Century Association, Olyphant Borough, Dickson City Borough, Anthracite Heritage Museum, the Lackawanna County Council on Arts and Culture, Propst Transportation, Community Bank and Peoples Security Bank and Trust.

For more information, call 570-793-3692 or email edventures@epix.net. You can also follow the Santa Train on Lackawanna Heritage Valley’s Facebook page.