Court Appointed Special Advocates of Will County raised more than $60,000 for programs during its annual Christmas Express train ride, held the first weekend in December, Dec. 5-6. The event was presented by Midland States Bank of Joliet, with other sponsors including D’Arcy Motors, CITGO, Joliet Junior Woman’s Club, Caton Commercial Real Estate Group and Holly Club of Joliet.
“We are very proud of how this event has transformed over the past seven years,” said CASA of Will County Executive Director Rita Facchina. “Each year, our numbers get larger, and the magical holiday experience is enhanced by the generous support of the community. The strong community support we see year after year allows us to directly help the children within Will County and that’s what makes this event truly special.”
The first day began with families being greeted at check-in by “Santa’s Elves.” Visitors enjoyed playing games provided by the Joliet Junior Woman’s Club while excitedly awaiting their departure to the “North Pole.”
Guests also enjoyed a train display, courtesy of the Will County Model Railroad Association, and hot cocoa, all at Joliet Union Station. Families then boarded a Metra train, en route to see Santa. Each train car was escorted by volunteer elves who led the guests in Christmas songs.
As each train arrived in Tinley Park, the elves marched passengers down Oak Park Avenue to Durbin’s Restaurant to see Santa and to enjoy a buffet breakfast or lunch.
Saturday’s festivities also included a “Santa’s Workshop” at the Tinley Park Fire Station, where guests made reindeer food, enjoyed face painting, wrote letters to Santa and created holiday-themed crafts, courtesy of Macaroni Kid Joliet – Shorewood and Holly Club of Joliet.
On Sunday, guests returned to Durbin’s for breakfast or lunch, pictures with Santa and had cookies delivered by Mrs. Claus. Santa’s Workshop, complete with crafts, cookies and fun activities was held at the American Legion.
The Christmas Express is one of several key fundraisers to underwrite CASA of Will County programs and services. The next event is the “Have a Heart for the Child” Benefit Auction Gala to be held Feb. 27 at the Patrick C. Haley Mansion in Joliet. The elegant event will feature Andy Avalos, meteorologist for NBC 5 Chicago, as the master of ceremonies.
For more information about CASA, to make a donation or to learn how you can become a volunteer, call 815-730-7072 or visit www.casaofwillcounty.org.