Thomaston railroad museum offers autism-friendly holiday train trip

Santa Claus greets a young child during the Santa Express train ride at the Railroad Museum of New England in Thomaston. For the sixth consecutive year, the museum and the Naugatuck Railroad are teaming up with Watertown-based nonprofit Sun, Moon & Stars to offer a holiday train ride designed for children on the autism spectrum.

Lara Green-Kazlauskas / For Hearst Connecticut Media /

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

The Sun, Moon & Stars Santa Express — departing at noon on Nov. 28 from RMNE in Thomaston — 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 scenic train ride through the Naugatuck River Valley. Each child on board also receives a special gift from Santa’s toy bag, according to a statement.

“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,” said Sun, Moon & Stars Founder Christine Faressa. “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.”

“This is an opportunity for children on the autism spectrum and their families to embark on a magical journey and celebrate the Christmas holiday in a calm and welcoming environment,” said RMNE Marketing Manager Matthew Sniffen. “This has been a great partnership over the years, one with the common goal to provide a wonderful, judgement-free experience, and inclusive experience.”

Tickets are available on the RMNE website. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Sun, Moon & Stars. For a listing of all upcoming RMNE excursions go to rmne.org/