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Students Ride With Santa On NJ Transit's Holiday Train

HOBOKEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Santa Claus left his reindeer at home Friday to ride the rails with 200 children with special needs.

CBS2's Natalie Duddridge tagged along as they boarded the holiday train in New Jersey.

'Twas three weeks before Christmas and all through NJ Transit, the children arrived for a train ride.

"Just to see the kids' happiness and everybody has fun. Everybody gets the gift they want, you know, within reason. They make lists out, I mean, we prepare for this the whole year," Santa told Duddridge.

Dozens of teens with special needs boarded a transformed train car, filled with gifts and treats, with their teachers in the lead.

"All the students here are ages between 14 and 21. They are classified with autism spectrum disorder," said Antoinnette Harris.

There's a group of hardworking elves behind this magical journey, made up of train conductors and engineers who've organized this event for years.

"Close to 40 years ago, a couple of conductors were getting together with their spare change and they threw it into a jar. They bought presents and had a little party, and it evolved," said David Decker, president of Railmen for Children. "When they open the gifts or when they see Santa, and their smiles, it's the best."

The trip with St. Nick runs along the Montclair-Boonton Line, and they joyfully made it on board in the nick of time.

"To see all these kids smiling and it's just, it's a miracle. I love it," said "Olaf."

But as the kids settled into their seats, an interruption was near. The Grinch who stole Christmas showed up and filled their hearts with fear.

"Are you going to ruin Christmas?" Duddridge asked.

The Grinch nodded his head yes. Luckily, Santa was nearby to save the day.

"We keep Grinch in his place," he said.

Santa welcomed the Grinch onboard and the holiday journey got underway.

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