December 25, 2008

Holiday train adds Christmas to schedule

A Texas man said he has expanded the schedule of the holiday train has run in his backyard for the past eight years to keep the ride open on Christmas.

Joel Occhiuzzo, 76, said he has operated the train, which seats 22 people, and given free rides to all who come from Thanksgiving through New Year's Day in his Richardson backyard for the past eight years, and this year he decided not to shut the ride down for Christmas, The Dallas Morning News reported Thursday.

A lady asked me if I'd do it -- things have been so bad this year, so why not do something a little special for people? Occhiuzzo said.

Occhiuzzo said it typically takes him about two months to set up the train and the rest of the backyard decorations, including more than 30,000 lights, brightly-colored cartoon characters and a high-reaching arch of illuminated reindeer.

He said busy weekend nights for the train have seen as many as 400 riders.

I've had churches and schools and Boy Scout groups, Occhiuzzo said. This, I do for everybody. I ask for no money, no cans of food, nothing. Just come and enjoy it.