The North Pole of Texas continues the 22-year tradition of free train rides during the Christmas season with the opening of the Pickton ride on Thanksgiving weekend.
As COVID-19 cases continue to rise locally, across the state, country and world, the Screws family carefully considered whether to open The North Pole of Texas and if so, how to go about doing so.
“After much prayer and consideration, our team has made the decision to reopen for the 2020 season,” the Alan and Kim Screws family posted on the North Pole Of Texas Facebook page and website. “This has been a very stressful and unsettling year for all of us, but we can take comfort in knowing God is in control and we want to do our part in providing your family an enjoyable evening celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
The North Pole of Texas will be open on from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights starting Thanksgiving weekend and continuing until Dec. 18, with one additional day offered on December 20.
As with all things during this time of novel coronavirus 2019, regular visitors to the North Pole of Texas will notice some changes in place “to ensure that your experience is the best it can be.”
“Don’t worry – the same feelings of joy, Christmas spirit and awe of Jesus are what we hope to bring to you! Since The North Pole of Texas is an outside attraction, masks will not be required and there is plenty of space on our country road to social distance. We ask that all of our friends do what is best for them, and to respect what may be best for others,” the Screws family reports.
The North Pole of Texas started as a simple Santa’s Hay Ride, offered for family, friends and church members in 1997. In 1998, the Screws family built the Christmas Cannonball, their first “train.” The first year of operation 200 train rides were given to family and friends. The ride was opened to the public on weekends leading up to Christmas.
Over the last 17 years, four new “trains” have been built to offer 15-minute rides through the North Pole of Texas to 15-20 people at a time. Annually, more than 15,000 passengers visit the North Pole of Texas. Often times, families make the trek to Pickton to ride the train a family tradition. Typically, the school groups schedule day visits to the Christmas ride. This year, NPOT will not be scheduling day visits but groups are welcome to visit during the night schedule.
Along with the free rides, free hot chocolate is offered for any who want a sweet treat to help them warm up while waiting their turn to ride the train through the North Pole of Texas.
There are more lights than can be counted, as well as holiday cutouts, a path lined by lighted trees to the train track, as well as Santa’s Toy Shop, has included a Christmas Cottage and places for families to take photos. However, the large “Happy Birthday Jesus” sign on the bridge that carries the trains across the county road sums up the theme of the North Pole of Texas. Local church groups and community members most often staff a live Nativity depicting the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, serving as a reminder to celebrate His life as Savior, Lord of Lords, and King of Kings.
“We humbly do this because God gave us the greatest gift of all, His son Jesus. We want everyone to know the real reason we celebrate Christmas is the birth of our savior Jesus Christ. We made the decision, as a family, to give Jesus first place and priority during the Christmas season and all throughout the year. We have purposed in our hearts to make Jesus the primary focus of Christmas and we want to help others do the same,” the Screws family notes.
The North Pole of Texas is built and supported by volunteers and donations only. The NPOT team works all year long dreaming up new ideas to enhance visitors’ experience, and checking to make sure that every twinkle light is in place and even preparing an endless supply of hot chocolate mix to “ensure the Christmas train in Pickton is a bright spot in your holiday season.”
While everything is offered for free, the NPOT does accept donations to help offset the costs of upkeep, electricity and other related fees of hosting the event. Those who wish to make a donation need only to look for a designated container.
The North Pole of Texas is located at 227 County Road 3378, Pickton, Texas 75471. Any changes to the train schedule will be posted at northpoleoftexas.com or the North Pole Of Texas Facebook page.