Author looking for information about Sedley Santa TrainPublished 11:41am Thursday, June 20, 2013
Donna Strother Deekens and Doug Riddell are chasing a train — a train from the past that many local residents may remember.
Deekens, the former Miller & Rhoads Snow Queen and author of Christmas at Miller & Rhoads: Memoirs of a Snow Queen and Riddell, a retired railroader and author of From the Cab, are now working on a book about Santa Claus trains, or special holiday trains that conveyed the jolly old elf from station to station to the delight of children and the “young at heart.”
One such train ran from Sewell’s Point in Norfolk to Sedley from 1947 – 1955, sponsored by the Sedley Woman’s Club, the Sedley Ruritan Club and the Sedley Theater. Santa arrived in grand style on a steam locomotive on The Virginian Railroad and greeted hundreds of children and adults for a fun and festive afternoon. After his arrival, crowds escorted him to the Sedley Theater where the children paid their “admission” of canned goods to enter the theater. There they were treated to cartoons and a visit with Santa, and received “an apple or orange and some candy.” The canned goods were collected by the sponsoring clubs and distributed to needy families throughout the community.
Deekens and Riddell are searching for more information about the Sedley Santa Train, for the book that is tentatively titled, Virginia’s Legendary Santa Trains: How Miller & Rhoads and Others Brought Christmas to Town on a Rail, to be published by The History Press, Charleston, SC, and released on October 22nd. They ask that anyone who remembers the train, participated in the excursions or has photos to share, please contact, as soon as possible, Deekens: firstname.lastname@example.org; phone: (804) 240-8436; June Dunlow: (757) 562-5869; or Janet Hudgins: (757) 562-3519.