LYNDONVILLE - The Polar Express trudged through the rough Vermont winter conditions for the eleventh year in a row on Sunday. However, it was not Tom Hanks at the command.
The Freighthouse sponsors this event every year, and is a tradition that many say they look forward to. The conductor responsible for bringing holiday cheer to all those aboard is Charlie Somers.
"Basically I'm the biggest kid on the train, and I tell people, the kid with the conductors hat on is the biggest one of them all," says Somers.
Somers, who is originally from Lyndonville, has been playing the role of conductor for about seven years now after a little encouragement from his niece.
"I have a niece that does this every year, and she insisted that Uncle Charlie be on the train as the conductor, about 8 years ago," says Somers with a smile on his face.
Bonnie Paris, a member of the North Pole Express committee, says there were other factors involved in choosing Somers for the job as well. "You know Charlie really adds to the fun. He's a fun friendly face and is really able to get everyone into the holiday spirit, plus we already had someone playing the role of a hobo, so obviously he needed a buddy for the ride," says Paris.
Every year since his began his career as a conductor, Somers' job is to help deliver the Polar Express story while children of all ages enjoy ginger bread cookies and hope to see the big man himself, Santa Claus.
Although he may play the role conductor well, and have a close similarity to Tom Hanks, Somers still has to make ends meet by working full time as a sales manager at Classic Design in Saint Johnsbury. He says its worth it to take the time to balance working as a conductor every year in addition to his own job, because it's all about seeing the excitement on the faces of everyone on his train.
However, there is more behind this event besides spreading holiday cheer that makes this annual tradition even more important. "The money raised helps to go to under privledged children, through a random selection," said Paris.