Annual Allstate CTA Holiday Train rolls into town, bringing holiday cheer

By Karie Angell Luc for Chronicle Media

Santa Claus visits with families at CTA Kimball stop. (Photo by Karie Angell Luc/for Chronicle Media)

The Allstate CTA Holiday Train and Bus are back to bring holiday cheer to you.

“I think it’s adorable,” said Cynthia Gelper of Ravenswood, who rode the Brown Line holiday train on Nov. 30. “I wish I had a little kid with me. But I feel like a little kid now.”

Santa Claus rides on his outdoor car to the delight of families who want to pose for pictures. They did so on Nov. 30 when the train stopped at Kimball, the end of the brown line.

The interior of the cars includes neon holiday lights, holiday appropriate amusing advertisements and festive music.

Rudolph and Santa Claus at CTA Kimball stop. (Photo by Karie Angell Luc/for Chronicle Media)

Seat covers are also holiday themed, some with artwork like merry Santa Claus faces.

“We’re so excited!” said Lauren McCarthy of Lakeview who brought her child Delaney, 2, to see the train and Santa.

For Christmas, Lauren McCarthy said Delaney wants a stroller for her dolly.

What does Santa Claus want for Christmas?

“Oh, Santa just wants to be with everyone,” Santa Claus said, taking a moment to talk while greeting families at the Kimball stop. “That’s all that matters to me.”

Lauren McCarthy (center) of Lakeview with her child Delaney, 2. (Photo by Karie Angell Luc/for Chronicle Media)

Just as bright as the Holiday Train is the Elves’ Workshop Train, which is a six-car train.

It follows the Holiday Train on Saturdays, which are the busiest days. The elves train helps to ensure everyone has an opportunity to experience the festive visual.

Some newcomer rider families wonder if the holiday CTA transportation photo opportunity is free.

Elves are door greeters and ride the holiday train to distribute complimentary buttons and also free wrapped candy canes.

The train arrives at the Belmont CTA stop. (Photo by Karie Angell Luc/for Chronicle Media)

What do folks think of the keepsake buttons?

“I think it’s a very hot button,” said Elf McJingle, who said he was the first male elf to staff the CTA Holiday Train.

The 2018 button features a snowman and traditional holiday colors.

“It’s this year’s button so of course it’s hot,” McJingle said, with a smile.

Complementing the seasonal trains is the Allstate CTA Holiday Bus, which travels throughout Chicago’s neighborhoods.

Riders on the Brown Line experience rainbow colors. (Photo by Karie Angell Luc/for Chronicle Media)

“I’m having a lot of fun, I mean, a lot of fun, fun you can’t even imagine,” said Jingles, a female elf.

Riding the Brown Line that Friday with family was Bobby Zangrilli of Lincoln Square.

“This is an awesome family experience,” Zangrilli said.

“I love Chicago,” he said.

“This is the best!”

View the schedule at