Frosty the Snowman paying a visit to the children aboard the Polar Express. Photo taken by Ashley Leung

By ASHLEY LEUNG

Choo choo! All aboard the Polar Express! Malden High School’s Literary Society participated in a nonprofit program that is run by Reading Gymnastics Academy and Creative Arts of Reading to recreate the famous train ride in the children’s Christmas story, “The Polar Express.” This event helps raise money for the two companies, who have helped children recognize their talents everyday. The Literary Society’s yearly collection of work that they produce, called “The Oracle,” which is funded by the Creative Arts group, so this helps raise money to make the books. The main purpose of this remains, however, “to recreate the story itself to the children.” Volunteers from Malden, Melrose, and Reading come together to help make this event become more special for everyone who participates. The advisor of the Literary Society, English teacher Yahaira Marquez, has been involved in the Holiday Polar Express in her four years of advising the club. However, the event itself started over fifteen years ago, when the Visiting Nurses of Boston took over the original event, which was from a greeting at a Melrose train station to raise money for their program. Since then, it has grown popular among young children and their parents. In the past four years, Marquez has seen more and more students getting involved in the event, wanting to volunteer at the event again after being in it the previous year. There were so many students who had wanted to help out this year that “[she] had to turn some of them down.” Not only did the volunteers want to help out on the Malden ride, but they wanted to help with the Melrose and Reading rides. “[She] really appreciates how students want to help, even in cities they don’t live in.” Members of the Literary Society volunteered to help decorate the MBTA’s Commuter Rail and dress up as elves or other famous characters during the ride. The windows of the train were decorated with snowflake stickers, and the top shelves were wrapped in garlands. Elves greeted passengers as they went inside the train car, and walked up and down the aisle to entertain. The Polar Express song was also played when the train first started moving to make their experience more like the real train. The elves helped create a lively atmosphere by encouraging everybody to sing to the popular Christmas songs, such as Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and Jingle Bell Rock. After a while, a reading of the Polar Express was done by one of the elves, where everyone stayed silent to listen to the famous story. From there, many famous characters came through each car, such as Elmo, Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, and, of course, Santa Claus himself. Cookies and milk were also handed out in the middle of the ride, and by the end, when the children were starting to get restless, they handed out a small, silver bell to all of the small children, much like the one that the main character in the movie receives as his first present of Christmas. Everybody also received a small gift bag with holiday goodies inside of it, and returned to Malden Station at the time planned.

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