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Expressive train rolls through

Locomotive laden with Christmas decorations makes its way through Downtown as part of the ‘Spark of Love’ toy drive.

December 08, 2007|By Chris Wiebe

BURBANK — At the Downtown Metrolink station Friday night, hundreds of people were waiting for a train.

Not just any train, but the Holiday Toy Express — twinkling with Christmas lights and holiday decorations and marking the arrival of the holiday season.

The event was a cooperative effort between Metrolink and the Burbank Fire Department to collect toys for the “Spark of Love” toy drive, which distributes holiday gifts to needy children.


The Burbank station was alive with giving and good cheer as people in the crowd sipped hot chocolate, dropped gifts into the “Spark of Love” collection boxes and checked out the live entertainment.

An elf on 10-foot stilts meandered about the station, waving to children and dispelling all stereotypes that elves are always short and chubby. A musical trio played Christmas favorites, striking their xylophones and a glockenspiel with mallets. Train passengers pulling into the station looked puzzled that Ebenezer Scrooge was wandering around on the platform.

“I’m really not as bad as they say,” Scrooge pleaded to a group of children.

When a deep baritone train whistle sounded in the distance, the crowd looked eagerly down the tracks. But it was a cargo train passing through, whipping up a sudden wind that had a dozen Burbank firefighters reaching up to their heads to secure their Santa hats.

But there was no mistaking the Holiday Express, and its arrival sparked a hearty cheer from the crowd.

“There’s nothing better than trains and lights for Christmas, because it reminds us all of when we were young,” Burbank Mayor Marsha Ramos said to the crowd.

The holiday season gives us all a chance to reclaim the innocent and marveled perspective of childhood, she said.

The night was put on with the help of several community partners, including free hot chocolate from the Romancing the Bean coffee shop and event volunteers from the Walt Disney Co., downtown Burbank manager Gail Stewert said.

The occasion was also an installment of Downtown Burbank’s “12 Days of Holiday Cheer,” which rolls out more than 30 events between Dec. 1 and 12, Ramos said.

“We have so much to offer here in Burbank’s ‘12 Days of Holiday Cheer,’” she said. “I guarantee we have something to offer for people of any age.”

The remaining events include Breakfast with Santa at the Burbank Town Center at 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. today; a Holly Trolley Tour of decorated homes in Burbank, which starts on the walkway of AMC Theater at 5:45 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. today; and Snow Day on the AMC walkway between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Sunday, when children will have a chance to play in man-made snow.

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