Bellefonte Train Station at Talleyrand Park Bellefonte, Pennsylvania 16823
(814) 355 - 1053
By Serge Bielanko
October rolls around and with it come a million fall festivals and events. Hayrides, pumpkin patches, Halloween parades, our part of Pennsylvania really shines at this time of year. It's easy to take it for granted, I guess. It's something we all do from time to time. We get used to things, overlook the fact that we live in such a beautiful part of the world, so many things to do. Of all the good times that go down around here each fall though, the Halloween Train still remains at the top of my list. Rolling out of the station at Talleyrand Park on a Friday evening, bound for no place in particular, a dad like me can sit back for a second and just take it all in.
The changing leaves.
The sun dipping low over the farms outside of town.
My son, Henry, on the seat in front of me, dressed as a fireman, checking out all of the other kids' costumes.
Life is crazy, you know? It's busy and chaotic. I never slow down. You probably don't either. This train ride always calms me down for some reason though. I look forward to it for the chance to be with my kids without having to entertain them or make sure they don't fall off the monkey bars or whatever. There's a strange peace for me, and I suspect for a lot of the parents on board, in simply knowing that for the next hour we're free to do nothing but laugh and smile together with our kids.
That doesn't happen nearly enough these days. Trains sort of demand it though. Especially old beautiful ones. They calm me, at least. And I'm not that calm, people.
The Bellefonte Historical Railroad Society is an all-volunteer group of people who do enormous amount of work carefully restoring both trains and train stations in our area. They do it because they know that railroads once played a very important part in Centre County's history. They do it because they don't want people to forget that either. And they do it because they love trains. Which makes perfect sense when you think about it because, c'mon...who doesn't love trains, right?
The BHRS has been doing a weekend of Fall Foliage and Halloween train rides for years now. The longer rides are probably better for adults and older kids, however the Friday night rides are always dedicated to the all-ages Halloween gang. Nothing too scary. Just a few costumed folks handing out treats to young riders. Not all that much happens along the ride really, but that's exactly the magic of it all. Sometimes not much happening is perfect and enough. And trust me, if you have little kids like I do, just getting dressed up in your Halloween costumes and piling into a carefully restored old train car is as cool as it gets.
Plus, let's be honest: it's not something you get to do very often, is it?
Parents and children both seem to become a tiny bit more alive up in an antique coach car. Eyes sparkle, smiles don't fade away like they normally would. Everyone kind of knows they're somewhere special.
As we left the station on one ride a few years ago, I tried to talk to my older two a bit about history, about the railroads played in the past. Still, to be perfectly honest, I don't think they were listening to me at all. Yet fair enough. I mean, listen, if you're a three-year-old or a six-year old or even an eight or nine-year-old and you're riding aboard an old train decorated for Halloween on a cool fall evening, well, you're not paying attention to your dad's boring stories, are you?
Oh heck no.
No, you're staring at a kid two rows up. He's dressed as Super Mario and he's staring at you because you're dressed as Mario, too. And you're both smiling at each other across seats that once carried a lot of people a lot of miles, each of you silently wondering who will bring the treats out first?
Will it be Superman? A Minion? A witch or a mummy or a friendly ghost?
You know, it's true that a lot of towns all over the map can lay claim to certain things that we don't have here in our neck of the woods. However I'd still be willing to bet you a jar of candy corn that not many of them can lay claim to a Halloween train.
Lucky Bellefonte. Lucky us.
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