Operation North Pole is sharing the magic of Christmas with 60 families who have children suffering from life-threatening or terminal illnesses. Later today, these special kids will take a ride on the Polar Express, which will roll through Palatine at 12:37 p.m.
At the Palatine Metra Station, 137 W. Wood Street, members of the Palatine Fire Department will be on the platform wearing Santa hats and holding signs, to show support for the children as the train slowly travels by.
Now in its fourth year, Operation North Pole is wrapping the exteriors of two Metra train cars, as well as a partial interior, with bright holiday colors and images of Santa’s workshop.
The purpose is to provide families who have children battling a life threatening illness with the fantasy of traveling to the North Pole to visit Santa Claus.
The train cars will remain wrapped for the remainder of the holiday season, delighting young and old as it whisks by on Metra’s Union Pacific Northwest rails this winter.
The non-stop journey to Pingree Road station in Crystal Lake will include activities led by Mrs. Claus, the Polar Express Conductor, Candy Cane Girls, and volunteer firefighters from the North Pole Fire Department.
Once back in Des Plaines, the families will board awaiting charter buses and parade with Santa, riding atop a Fire Department ladder truck, to a Winter Wonderland at the Donald E. Stephens Rosemont Convention and Banquet Center. Arriving at the North Pole, they will find the 28,000 square foot south ballroom transformed into a child’s sugar plum dream.
They will discover Mrs. Claus’ Pizza Kitchen, The Pink Penguin Beauty Salon, Prancer’s Popcorn, Frosty’s Soda & Slush, and Lollypop Land with hundreds of donated candies. There will be magicians, face painters, photo booths, cookie decorating, craft making, make-your-own ice cream sundaes and a model train display for all to enjoy.
Each child aged 12 and younger will be able to visit with Santa and receive wrapped gifts selected from wish lists they wrote to Santa earlier in August. This is truly a day of magical moments for each family, according to Metra.
Children participating in this incredible day are referred to Operation North Pole by Child Life Specialists from area children’s hospitals and directors from four area Ronald McDonald Houses.
It is a day free from the worry and stress of hospital stays and medical treatments; a day to just be a child at Christmas. With the emotional and financial stresses that a family with a child battling a life-threatening or a terminal illness may face, Operation North Pole makes sure that all of the children in the immediate family participate and share in the joyful festivities. Approximately 150 children will participate this year.
As a non-profit organization, Operation North Pole relies on the generosity of many to make the magic happen. They host two major fundraising events in which volunteers and supporters are given the opportunity to “adopt” a child for Christmas, fulfilling their wish lists to Santa.
For more information, visit www.operationnorthpole.org.