SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The popular Polar Express is back on the rails. The Christmas-themed train ride is the biggest annual fundraiser for the California Railroad Museum Foundation.
This week's blackout in the downtown Sacramento area forced them to cancel train trips on two nights: a $200,000 loss.
"Over the past couple of days we have had to tell way too many people that Christmas is canceled," explained Tim Schroepfer, Interim COO California State Railroad Museum Foundation. "This is a third of our revenue for the year over the 18 days to have two of those gone is a real big hit for us."
Parents like Shaun Lenhart bought their tickets months in advance and worried the blackout would dim their Christmas cheer.
"It was magical," he explained. "We were a little nervous. We didn't know what was going to happen."
Hundreds of families take jumps aboard during the 18 days of rides.
"It's kind of a big deal to be here tonight," said Jennice Rice.
Rice brought her three kids who have special needs, making this train ride hold extra meaning.
"They are in their element and it's fabulous," she said. "We didn't want to break any hearts, so we kept it mum. They didn't know until we arrived, and they have never been before, so they were beyond excited."
For Old Sacramento shops, the Festival of Lights that went dark is critical to bring in customers.
"For the light to go out in the month of December is the most economically important month for these businesses was really a hard hit," explained Scott Ford, Old Sacramento Waterfront District director.
Brannan Manor is among the 135 merchants now trying to recoup their cost from SMUD as they welcome people back.
Old Sacramento shines bright again with its electric holiday spirit.
"It's critically important that the community come out, show your support, these are your neighbors out here," said Ford.
for more features.