Crowds expected for Polar 7/24/2015

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 24, 2015

Crowds expected for Polar

By John Howell
Rail officials expect as many as 35,000 people to visit Batesville in November and December to experience the Polar Express Train Ride.

Online ticket sales will begin by August 1,Alderman Eddie Nabors said, for the movie-based fantasy experience that will begin with boarding on the Batesville Square.

Nabors, Mayor Jerry Autrey and Batesville Main Street Manager Colleen Clark met last week with a representative  of Iowa Pacific (IP)Holdings. Nabors talked about the potential economic impact during Tuesday’s meeting of the board of mayor and aldermen.

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• IP plans to erect a circus-style tent on the Square for ticketing, waiting and a gift shop;
• The railroad expects to hire about 100 people for the seasonal work including Santas, of course. Also elves, train staff, singing waiters/waitresses, parking lot staff, ticketing, gift shop clerks, management and an experienced event manager to coordinate them all;
• Santas with real beards receive priority consideration;
• IP has asked for use of parking lots in all downtown areas for visitors;
• A location for the “North Pole” has been selected rail side at Pope where negotiations are underway with the property owner;

• IP seeks a local contractor to build the North Pole set and to store set between seasons;
• IP is seeking services from local bakeries and security service.

The railroad tentatively expects the Polar Express Train Rides to begin on Friday, Nov. 20 and continue until December 27. Up to five trips will be scheduled on peak ridership days.