As Black Friday shoppers stormed the malls, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) lit up commutes with the return of its beloved holiday train on Friday, transforming routine rides into twinkling winter wonderlands on the Green and Orange Line tracks according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Festooned with thousands of lights and Santa's sleigh, the CTA holiday train is a seasonal shot in the arm for city dwellers chasing the yuletide high.
Moving on from the dazzling exteriors, the interiors of CTA's trains are equally captivating, with CTA employees donning elf costumes, giving out candy canes, and jacking up the jolly with holiday hymns interspersed with the stop announcements. Amber Jessup and her daughter Leilynn Miller jumped aboard the festive train for the inaugural run, sharing with the Sun-Times, "It’s always a great surprise when you catch it not on schedule." Meanwhile, the Robinson family has stuck with their tradition of riding the holiday train annually, to no one's surprise.
For those plotting a Santa encounter of their own, the CTA is spreading cheer by offering photo ops with the jolly old elf on select dates first announced by NBC Chicago. And let's not forget about Santa's equally decked-out bus counterpart, taking over the No. 56 Milwaukee route starting Tuesday—a tradition since 2014, when the CTA leveled up its holiday game.
The CTA recommends travelers to 'plan ahead and allow extra travel time,' and to 'travel light', especially if you are bringing along the tiniest revelers, braving the elements for a dose of the holiday spirit. Remember, ‘tis the season to be strategic; less is more when you're hustling for a spot on these in-demand holiday rides.