After more than a decade, Santa Claus won’t be riding Prince Rupert rails this December as part of the Jingle Bell Express.
The annual event, which is organized by Dave Walker and the Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce, will not be taking place because the chamber missed the deadline to reserve a train.
Jacques Gagnon, Via Rail’s senior manager of media and community relations, said the lack of the Jingle Bell Express was not the company’s decision.
“We are not involved with this. The cancellation has to do with the organizers, because this is the type of initiative VIA Rail supports,” Gagnon said.
Simone Clark, executive director of the Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce, isn’t denying the chamber missed the deadline, but said finding an available line for the train to use has also been an ongoing problem over the past few years.
Clark said the event almost didn’t take place last year because of a lack of line space. If Maher hadn’t had an opening, the Jingle Bell Express would have only travelled about 100 metres.
Given the same set of circumstances, Clark said the chamber doesn’t expect it will be putting on the event again anytime soon.
“There’s a likelihood we won’t be able to anymore because there’s so many more trains coming to town,” she said.
“As we have continued industrial growth there’s just not the availability of the lines.”
Walker, who organized the event for the past 15 years, agreed.
“There’s so much activity on the waterfront that it’s just not possible. Quite honestly, I’m surprised it went for the last two years,” he said, adding coordinating the Jingle Bell Express is a major undertaking. Organizers need to start planning as early as March.
“Hopefully everything settles down to a dull roar for next year so they’ll be able to bring it back,” he said.