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WILSON PARKS AND RECREATION

‘A lot of smiles’ on Train of Lights

Popular holiday attraction draws crowds

Posted on December 10, 2021

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Passengers ride Wilson’s Train of Lights on Thursday evening.

Drew C. Wilson | Times

Passengers ride Wilson’s Train of Lights on Thursday evening.

Morgan Nygard, Corbin Nygard and Cory Nygard pose for a selfie while riding the Train of Lights on Thursday evening.

Drew C. Wilson | Times

Morgan Nygard, Corbin Nygard and Cory Nygard pose for a selfie while riding the Train of Lights on Thursday evening.

Jamari Howell, Victoria Howell, Leilani Martinez and Carina Martinez ride Wilson’s Train of Lights on Thursday.

Drew C. Wilson | Times

Jamari Howell, Victoria Howell, Leilani Martinez and Carina Martinez ride Wilson’s Train of Lights on Thursday.

Chad Dixon pilots the Train of Lights around a turn Thursday at Recreation Park.

Drew C. Wilson | Times

Chad Dixon pilots the Train of Lights around a turn Thursday at Recreation Park.

Passengers ride Wilson’s Train of Lights on Thursday evening.

Drew C. Wilson | Times

Passengers ride Wilson’s Train of Lights on Thursday evening.

Morgan Nygard, Corbin Nygard and Cory Nygard pose for a selfie while riding the Train of Lights on Thursday evening.

Drew C. Wilson | Times

Morgan Nygard, Corbin Nygard and Cory Nygard pose for a selfie while riding the Train of Lights on Thursday evening.

Morgan Nygard, Corbin Nygard and Cory Nygard pose for a selfie while riding the Train of Lights on Thursday evening.
Jamari Howell, Victoria Howell, Leilani Martinez and Carina Martinez ride Wilson’s Train of Lights on Thursday.
Chad Dixon pilots the Train of Lights around a turn Thursday at Recreation Park.
Passengers ride Wilson’s Train of Lights on Thursday evening.

dwilson@wilsontimes.com | 252-265-7818

Attendance has been high for Wilson’s Train of Lights this year.

“Through the first four nights, the 2nd through the 5th, we had over 2,500 riders come ride the train,” said Braxton Patterson, recreation programs and marketing supervisor with Wilson Parks and Recreation.

The city invited folks with special needs and volunteers to ride the miniature train on Monday, adding 200 more riders.

“With them, we have had over 2,700 people ride, with over 2,500 paid,” Patterson said. “We are really excited.”

Rides are $2 per person, cash only, with tickets available at Recreation Park, 500 Sunset Road.

“On our opening night, we had 422,” Patterson said. “I would say that is probably one of the top first weekends we have ever had with that many people.”

Patterson said weather is always a factor in how many people show up to ride the train.

“We have had some perfect weather for it,” he said. “I think the coldest night it got was 39 degrees, and that was at closing time on Sunday.”

While some don’t mind bundling up to enjoy the Wilson holiday tradition, Patterson said riders come in droves on mild evenings.

“Of course it affects the hot chocolate sales a bit, but they were still pretty good this past weekend because we are raising money for Special Olympics in Wilson County,” Patterson said.

Last year, city officials canceled the Train of Lights due to COVID-19 concerns.

“You can tell a lot of families are enjoying it. We are getting a lot of smiles,” Patterson said. “We haven’t done a survey or anything like that, but people are thanking us for being back open. You could tell that people were wanting to do something again.”

Vaughan’s Jewelers in the Shoppes at Brentwood is sponsoring the Train of Lights.

“We were very fortunate to get another corporate sponsor for the 2021 season,” Patterson said.

The Wilson attraction draws people from surrounding areas seeking a dose of holiday spirit.

“I’ve had people from Greenville, Ayden, Rocky Mount, Tarboro and, of course, the southern Nash County area,” Patterson said. “It’s kind of a local regional holiday event now.”

The train is a detailed scale model of a standard diesel that the Kiwanis Club purchased for $12,000 in 1954.

It’s powered by a four-cylinder V-type air-cooled engine with a fluid drive coupling with a vacuum air brake system. The engine pulls three cars with six seats each.

Patterson said Wilson Parks and Recreation spends about two weeks setting up the light display around the train tracks.

Rides are offered from 5:30-9 p.m. Thursdays to Sundays through Dec. 19.

“We see people come more than twice,” Patterson said. “We see people come each weekend or once or twice a weekend because their kids like it so much.”

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