MTA’s Holiday Trolley is an Enduring Family Favorite
For 22 years, Mendocino Transit Authority’s Holiday Trolley has puttered around an hour-long circuit route through Ukiah, packed to the gills with children and parents, everyone singing along to Christmas carols broadcast on the trolley’s sound system. Before the hour is up, many riders will have sung their hearts out, rung the brass bell, and called goodbye to the Santa-capped driver who gave them a candy cane as they stepped down to the pavement.
The 2019 Holiday Trolley will begin its annual embodiment of old-time Ukiah holiday spirit on the day after Thanksgiving, Friday, Nov. 29, following a loop route from Ukiah’s downtown Alex Thomas Plaza to the Pear Tree Shopping Center, Slam Dunk Pizza on the north end of town and Walmart on the south end. Sponsored by Savings Bank of Mendocino County, Greater Ukiah Business and Tourism Alliance, MTA and small businesses, it will run through Sunday, Dec. 22.
“My wife and I have a warm feeling for the MTA trolley because we both loved Mr. Rogers growing up, and the trolley was always there to take you on a fun adventure,” said James Snidow, a Willits radio deejay who has brought four generations of family to ride the trolley for several years. “It doesn’t really matter what is going by: The good energy is in the trolley. It’s pure fun to sing Christmas songs with the children. It’s a celebration of good cheer and generosity, and we all need that.”
The “antique” green and red Trolley (it was purchased new in 1997) has big side windows, polished wood paneling, twinkling lights and garlands of festive greenery. It can be standing room only on board. Dawn White, MTA operations supervisor and former trolley driver, said the hardest part of driving the Holiday Trolley is sometimes having to turn people away when it has reached maximum capacity. Though patrons can catch a ride or disembark at many stops on the route, White said the best place to ensure a ride is at Alex Thomas Plaza.
“MTA is so happy to be able to celebrate the holidays with our community through the trolley, and many of our drivers look forward to it,” said Carla Meyer, general manager of MTA. “We applaud the generous local businesses who support the free rides that bring people such joy and holiday spirit.”
Look for MTA’s Holiday Trolley in the Parade of Lights on Saturday, Dec. 7 this year at 6 p.m.
Una Wirkebau, executive director of the Greater Ukiah Business and Tourism Alliance, said, “The Holiday Trolley is a hallmark of Ukiah’s holiday season, and we encourage the community to support the local businesses that bring us this free family outing that exemplifies the very best aspects of holiday spirit.”
Business sponsors include: Savings Bank of Mendocino County, Walmart, El Azteca, Pear Tree Shopping Center, Hole in the Wall, Slam Dunk Pizza, Friedman’s Home Improvement, Ukiah Family Dentistry, Ukiah Periodontics, Cultivo restaurant, Ukiah Valley Golf Course, Craftsman Estate Jewelry and The Works staffing service.
Mendocino Transit Authority provides safe, low-cost, and convenient public bus service throughout Mendocino County. To learn more, visit mendocinotransit.org or call (707) 462-1422 or (800) 696-4682.