It was all about the trains at the Mahoning County Education Service Centers (MCESC) Catch the Polar Express event held Friday at its Boardman offices.
More than 100 guests attended from around the county, including children younger than age 5 accompanied by their parents.
The event is part of the MCESC Help Me Grow program that is geared to children age 5 and younger. The program helps families that are struggling to make ends meet by helping give the children and parents the tools they need to succeed.
Marquis Stephenson Jr., 1, and his sister Ja'nele, 4, enjoyed a visit with Santa (a.k.a. Dick Mauw) during the MCESC's Polar Express event on Dec. 6. The children attended with their parents Marquis Sr. and Teneisha of Boardman.
"It is a home visiting program to promote healthy parenting and develop preschool children," said program manager Kim Johnson.
Last year, the program had a helping hand when the non-profit organization Making Kids Count joined with the MCESC to put on an event based around the movie "Polar Express." That event was funded through a donation from a local Boardman resident.
"Last year we did this for a friend, Bob Paskey," said Making Kids Count founder Jenny Kennedy. "This year we decided to continue it."
Last year Paskey, who was a member of the Youngstown Model Railroad Club, donated funds for the event based on a train theme. Paskey passed away in August 2012, but the first event was such a success, Kennedy and the staffs at Help Me Grow and Making Kids Count came together to continue the tradition.
"It is a free event with activities for children and their families," Kennedy said. "It's a way for families to get out and enjoy some time together."