The museum’s doors will open at 6 p.m., and families will be welcomed into the holiday-themed celebration, where they will each receive tickets stamped with the time they will be allowed to visit Santa, said Kelly Briscoe, the events coordinator for the museum.
While they wait to see Santa, children can wander through the Polar Express-themed exhibits across the museum, participate in crafts and interact with characters from the movie.
The museum put on a similar event in the early 2000s, but hasn’t done another one since. This year, after hearing from residents who enjoyed the previous event, Briscoe said the museum decided to hold the event again.
The museum’s General locomotive, which sits in the center of the museum, will be decorated with lights and holiday decorations, and a live engineer and conductor will be working in the train and speaking with visitors about their journey through the winter wonderland.
Just like in the movie, “The Polar Express,” children will meet a hobo, before moving to the craft room. Home Depot has donated wooden craft materials and, while supplies last, children can choose to create wooden sailboats, moving trucks or engage in football tosses. Visitors can write letters to Santa and drop them in a decorated mailbox, and decorate ornaments, Christmas cards and make gingerbread men.
A model Christmas train set will also be decorated and running all night, which Briscoe said should distract visitors until their time with Santa arrives.
Once the time with Santa arrives they will be welcomed into a separate, decorated room, where Santa will be waiting, surrounded by his elves, Briscoe said. Children will not be able to sit on his lap, but can interact with him and will receive special jingle bells from the elves. Refreshments donated by Panera Bread will be provided as well.
The museum expects between 600-700 people to visit the North Pole tonight, and the museum is gearing up for a crowded and late evening. Festivities will end at 10 p.m., Briscoe said.
For more information, visit the museum’s website at ww.southernmuseum.org