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Last chance to board Christmas Railway

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The Roswell Christmas Railway will be closed after today due to the weather forecast for the weekend. (Alison Penn Photo)

Attraction will close for weekend; rebooking and refunds possible

Today is the last day to experience the Roswell Christmas Railway for this season since it will be closing for winter weather reasons.

According to the website, Roswell Christmas Railway located at 1306 E. College Blvd. will be open Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m. but will close for a potential winter storm forecast — canceling Friday, Saturday and Sunday night for safety reasons. As of press time, train tickets were available on the website (roswellchristmasrailway.com) with train departure times from 5 to 5:45 p.m., 6:15 p.m. and 6:45 to 8 p.m.

An email was sent from Roebuck Media to people who had purchased tickets for this week and offered the following options: to rebook for Thursday night or cancel tickets for a full refund. The email gave instructions to reply to jacob@roebuckmedia.com or call 575-495-4123 to cancel or rebook. All the rest of the tickets will be refunded on Friday if they have not requested a refund or rebooked, and Roebuck said a confirmation email will be sent to the purchaser.

Roebuck Media also alerted potential customers about the closure on the website and on the event’s Facebook page.

This year marks the third year of the Christmas Railway and Jacob Roebuck, producer of the event, said this is the first year of having weather issues other than coldness for the predominantly outdoor event. Roebuck said the Christmas Railway has had two nights affected by weather and five total days, including the upcoming weekend, since opening on Nov. 24. The event’s last day was scheduled for Sunday prior to the decision to close.

According to the National Weather Service, there is an 80 percent chance of snow and other precipitation on Friday night, 40 percent chance on Saturday, and Sunday is expected to be mostly sunny with a high of 33. Temperatures are predicted to be at a low 21 degrees on Friday and a high of 29 degrees on Saturday.

Roebuck said he and his team have been watching the weather closely and decided on Wednesday to close for the weekend to allow people to rearrange their plans instead of facing cancellation at the last minute. He said the chances of significant snow on Friday, below freezing temperatures on Saturday and Sunday and unsafe road conditions were factors in the decision.

“We will push through if we can give the customers a good experience, but when safety is an issue, we want to make sure people are being safe,” Roebuck said. “So, it just seemed like a better option for us to go ahead and close down those last few nights. We’ve really thought about it … nobody has been upset. Everybody has been very gracious about it — people understand — but surely there are some people disappointed. We are too because we always put a lot of hard work into it and we want to share that experience with as many people as possible.”

For this year, Roebuck said it has been another “great year” and Roebuck media has been “thrilled by the feedback” about the Roswell Christmas Railway. He also said the entertainment experiments with the Christmas Fairies versus the Fire Dragon performance and the Nativity Virtual Reality were successful and that similar opportunities are being looked into for the fourth season. The weekend before Christmas was the busiest and Roebuck said around 1,100 people had been present.

Roebuck said his team “hopes to see people out next year who weren’t able to make it.” Increasing train capacity, which is roughly for 40 to 45 people, is something Roebuck and his team, along with the city of Roswell, are additionally looking into for next year. Roebuck said adding carts might be a possibility to consider or “in a perfect world,” if funding was in place, running a second train could increase capacity for future events.

Rebuck said he and his team have been “learning a lot and we are hoping to continue to improve the experience” and are thankful for support from the city, businesses involved and performers — as well as the community, because without the community “we wouldn’t have the (Christmas) Railway.”

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.