Kaili Harding and her two little girls were part of a pajama-clad group of 135 children and adults that waited for over an hour in cold weather to board the Polar Express train scheduled to depart at the Glen Ellyn Metra station on Saturday for a magical ride to the North Pole with Santa just like the holiday story. The Union Pacific train arrived on time. However, many of the families said the conductor would not let them on board.
"We were very disappointed. And it's disappointing as a parent, as a mom because my daughter was crying," said Harding.
Gina Carroll said last year she could not get tickets for the Polar Express. This year she purchased them in August and her children were really excited about the trip. She said one family even came up from Iowa for the ride that never happened.
"She kept asking why did our train leave us, why did the Polar Express leave us? It's harder when you promise something to your children and then..you don't get to follow through with it," said Caroll.
For thirteen years, the Glen Ellyn Park District has organized the polar express ride. Sarah Sandquist, recreation supervisor, tried to get on the train with the families and was told by the conductor there would be another train, only to learn later there would be no other train.
"It was just really sad for them and it was disappointing to us and just kind of shocking to us…watching the train pull away from the station and we weren't on it," said Sandquist.
Sandquist says over the last few years they have had communication problems with Metra over the train ride.
"The whole Polar Express and all the magic that goes with that apparently was lost and we are very sorry for that. And we hope to make it up for those people and give them a free ride," said Judy Pardonet, Metra spokesperson.
Some of the families say they will take advantage of the fee ride. Others say they will not be able to. Metra says they are working with Union Pacific to make sure it does not happen again.