Union Pacific Ends Santa Train Tradition in La Grande

By David Nogueras

For the first time in more than 50 years, Santa Claus will not be stopping at the Union Pacific Railroad Depot in La Grande this holiday season. Railroad officials say an increase in seasonal freight traffic contributed to the decision to put the brakes on what's come to be known as the Santa Train.

In years past, the La Grande train depot would play host to hundreds of children all waiting to catch a glimpse of Santa as he rolled into the station. La Grande Mayor Daniel Pokorney says he's sad to see that tradition come to an end.

"I remember taking my children to the Santa Train. And anytime you take away those things from our community, it's sad to see those things go away. Hopefully they can change that and bring it back," said Pokorney.

In a statement, Union Pacific said increased freight traffic prompted officials to “further focus our resources on creating value for our customers”.

The La Grande Observer reports that federal license restrictions prohibit off-duty railroad employees from operating trains.

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