Railcar owners collect donations for Toys for Tots
November 21 – NORTHUMBERLAND – Santa Claus was not on a sleigh with reindeer on Saturday, he was in a North Shore Railroad carriage.
Railcar owners – including the merry Saint Nick – across the Northeastern United States took the North Shore Railroad from Northumberland to Berwick, and back, to collect toys and donations for the annual Toys for Tots. This is the 18th year that the North Shore Railroad has welcomed the North American Railcar Operators Association (NARCOA) for the ride. North Shore Railroad employees also collected toys and the railroad made monetary donations to Toys for Tots.
âI just love to see kids and parents enjoy taking pictures of their kids with me,â said Ed Summers, of Ohio, who donned the red and white costume for the first time for the event. “It really helps Toys for Tots. We raise a lot of money and toys for charity.”
It’s a pastime for Summers almost as old as the Association event, having been involved for 20 years.
âIt was the closest I could get to driving a locomotive,â Summers said.
There were 26 cars this year. The cars were decorated with a variety of themes including Snoopy and Charlie Brown, snowmen, Thomas the Tank Engine, nutcrackers, Rudolph and more.
NARCOA is a national organization that restores rail cars and charters railways across the country for excursions. Railcars, or speeders, were used by railways for the inspection and maintenance of tracks. Most railways now use trucks fitted with rail wheels, and many wagons have been sold to individuals. This group of cyclists left Northumberland just before 9 a.m. on Saturday, passing through Danville, Rupert, Bloomsburg and Berwick.
George Baney, of Bellefonte, said he has been competing since 2008. He bought a speeder, fixed it and has been doing it ever since.
âI like people,â he said. “The people are great. And that benefits the young people in the area. It’s always fun to see the children’s faces as we go down the trail.”
Kurt Wrobel, of Lewisburg, brought his son Nathan, 4, on Saturday morning.
âMy son loves trains and we wanted to support Toys for Tots,â he said. “It’s something we firmly believe in. Children need Christmas.”
Today, NARCOA passengers will travel on the Union County Industrial Railroad from New Columbia to Allenwood, south to West Milton, then to Lewisburg. At around 10:30 am they will arrive at Dunkin Donuts in Lewisburg, then at 11:15 am at the Rollermills Antique Mall in Lewisburg. The public is invited to meet them at either location to drop off Toys for Tots donations. After Lewisburg, the group will head south to Winfield. The cars will stop wherever they see someone with toys. They ask you to wave to them if they don’t see you first.
The railroad is pleased to welcome NARCOA on this ride and to help the Marine Corps League with such a worthy cause, âsaid Jeb Stotter, President and CEO of North Shore Railroad Company & Affiliates. for the local economy. “