Santa Comes to Kent by Train

Kids of all ages eagerly anticipate the arrival of Santa Claus by rail in Kent on December 4, 2011.

If it’s the first Saturday in December that must mean its time for Akron Railroad Club member Bob Rohal to done his Santa hat, take the control of “Flash” and bring Santa Claus into Kent via the rails.

Rohal, a locomotive engineer for Shelly Materials, was at the throttle of the company’s SD18M as it plied the former Erie Railroad tracks from the Shelly stone facility west of town to the former Erie depot just south of Main Street. The tracks are now owned by Portage County and used by the Akron Barberton Cluster Railway, a subsidiary of the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway.

As if planned, snow flakes were flying as the Santa train made its way into Kent.

As he has in past years, Rohal had “Flash” decorated with Christmas lights and “played” Jingle Bells on the locomotive horn. The unit is dubbed “Flash” because of its blue and gold color livery that honors hometown Kent State University, whose teams compete as the Golden Flashes.

Photographs by Roger Durfee

Rob Rohal at the controls of "Flash."

Presumably, this guy needs no identification.

Bob Rohal pauses beside the Shelly Materials SD18M before it leaves for Kent.

"Flash" pauses at the former Erie Railroad depot in Kent. The depot is now a restaurant.

The Shelly Materials SD18M is all decked out in holiday lights.

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