An enjoyable family experience for all ages, the turnout this year has been much better than last year, said Scott Seastrand, vice-president of Western Elite. “Last year we were having a snow storm that blocked off highway 93 for awhile and that greatly diminished our turnout. A lot of people did not want to travel that night,” he said.
No storm this year though, and last Saturday Western Elite hosted a very good crowd for the horse drawn carriage ride, hayride and caroling, a barrel train for children age eight and under, and the Polar Express: two authentic old-time railroad passenger cars pulled by diesel trucks.
Chili and nachos, cornbread, along with hot chocolate and Christmas cookies were also served. There were at least three large fire pits with a blazing fire in each one surrounded by hay bales for those who wanted to sit close to the fire to warm up a bit on a chilly evening, or picnic tables were also available.
Seastrand said, “We had a great response, which is a good problem. We will have to work on how to shorten the lines in wait for the rides.”
He said, “What we are really happy about is that people responded from all over, to an opportunity to get out and do something we think is worthwhile with the family.”
Originally planned as a Williams family event, Seastrand said the company started to invite their family and friends, and then two years ago decided to open the event to the public. He explained, “We are really trying to provide a good family unity experience. We have the resources here and the place to do it, and it’s just a concept that has kind of grown into a tradition.”
The Polar Express itself are actually two railroad passengers cars, most likely from the 1920s, that are on rubber tires and are pulled around the course by diesel trucks. The train depot where you enter the cars is the original Moapa Train Depot, built in 1905, purchased from a private party in 2012 and restored on the Western Elite property. Seastrand said the depot once was a private home in the Alamo area.
He said they did not have many additional attractions from previous years, “We had been doing most of them, we just expanded them a little larger.”
The hayride took riders around where the ranch animals are, horses, cows, pigs, chickens, peacocks, goats, plus lamas, and shined the spotlight on the animals.
The train ride took people through areas where live displays were set up. One girl was skating on a synthetic surface, another was a candy cane lane with people dressed up as cookies and cupcakes, a Santa’s elf village with about 15 or more elves who come out of a little house and do a dance, and a live nativity scene featuring a live cow and camel.
During the trip, Santa came into the car and handed out small bags of candy and goodies to the children on board.
Seastrand added, this event, among other activities the company plans especially in the summer, “is a way for us to be a contributor to our community.”