Lehnis Museum offers holiday tour for students, groups

It was “All-Aboard” at the Martin & Frances Lehnis Railroad Museum Friday as children from May Elementary enjoyed the “Polar Express Tour.” The tour is hosted by the museum and is one of the most popular holiday events of the season. And a surprise visitor from the North Pole, made the tour even more special to the children who attended Friday.

Lehnis Museum curator Crystal Stanley said the museum has hosted four field trips including groups from May and De Leon Friday. The Polar Express tour was the daytime version of the event held Saturday night, where individuals, families and groups made reservations to attend.

On Friday, it was indeed a bit “polar” with a chill in the air, but cold weather was the last thing on the minds of the students.

The Christmas themed tour included a ride on the Lehnis mini-train outside with conductor Dustin Crawford at the controls.

“The kids enjoy it,” said Crawford, who is also a museum aide. “The parents enjoy it too.”

The children squealed with delight as they took off from the mini-station and rounded two loops around the grounds.

“It’s awesome,” said Kennley Morrison, 5, a student in Danetta Blankinship’s kindergarten class.

Little Abigail Florez agreed.

“It was awesome, good and fun!,” she said.

“It was so fun,” said Cooper Dail, 6. “I love it.”

Conductor Dustin took the kids in groups of six around the station, and happily made all of the trips until all of the children had their turn. Then, he let everyone line up and punch the button to blow the train’s whistle.

“Everyone gets two turns,” he told them and, well, a few of the kids snuck in three blasts on the whistle.

Then it was inside the Lehnis Museum for an educational tour lead by museum aide Darla Collier, who told the children about working on the railroad. Then it was off for some playtime with the trains and oversized Legos. For the kids, the teachers and the chaperones, there was never a dull moment.

“I’m impressed,” said Elizabeth Hunsaker who brought her first-grade class. “When our principal asked if we wanted to do this we said ‘why not?’ and we are glad we did.”

After the play time it was off to watch the “Polar Express” video.

And then, who but Old St. Nick himself showed up to the delight and surprise of all of the 57 children who were there.

With a “Ho, ho ho,” Santa Claus entered the room where the children had been watching the movie.

“Hello kids how are you today?” he asked as the first stunned children screamed and then swarmed around him.

“I love you Santa,” one of the children could be heard shouting to the jolly old elf.

“I love you too,” he said.

Santa took the time to personally hug and take pictures with all of the children.

Stanley said she is expecting three field trips from area schools next week and will be offering the Polar Express Tour to groups through the end of December.

“They all have such a great time,” Stanley said. “Especially when Santa comes in!”

To book a tour in the coming weeks, call Stanley or museum aide Michelle Ezra at 325-643-6376.