New England Museum offering autism-friendly holiday train excursion

White and red locomotive pulling holiday decorated train

Railroad Museum of New England and the Naugatuck Railroad are teaming up with Watertown, Conn.-based nonprofit Sun, Moon & Stars to offer a holiday train ride designed for children on the autism spectrum. Here the train makes its way under a concrete bridge at Thomaston, Conn. (Scott A. Hartley)

New England Museum offering autism-friendly holiday train excursion

THOMASTON, Conn. – For the sixth consecutive year, the Railroad Museum of New England and the Naugatuck Railroad are teaming up with Watertown, Conn.-based nonprofit Sun, Moon & Stars to offer a holiday train ride designed for children on the autism spectrum. Naugatuck Railroad is the operational branch of the Railroad Museum of New England, founded in 1968

The Sun, Moon & Stars Santa Express will depart at noon Nov. 28 from RMNE in Thomaston. It is a specialized version of their Santa Express excursions where parents and children can visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus and his elves for a train ride through the Naugatuck River Valley. Each child on board also receives a special gift from Santa’s toy bag.

White and red locomotive with wreath on the front crosses steel bridge

The holiday train crosses the steel bridge at Waterville, Conn. (Scott A. Hartley)

“This special excursion is a judgement-free time for families with children on the autism spectrum to enjoy time with Santa and Mrs. Claus while riding the train,” Sun, Moon & Stars Founder Christine Faressa said. “Alterations are made to the original program to accommodate those with sensory sensitivities, such as keeping the music at a much lower volume. The staff and cast are also extra diligent to make all riders feel welcome and comfortable.” Sun, Moon & Stars is a nonprofit agency that promotes activities, services, and education to families with children on the autism spectrum.

“This has been a great partnership over the years, one with the common goal to provide a wonderful, judgement-free experience, and inclusive experience,” RMNE Marketing Manager Matthew Sniffen says.

Tickets are available on the RMNE website. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Sun, Moon & Stars.