Now that the Holiday Festival of Lights is open, the Santa Express is ready to ferry sightseers from Veterans Park and then drive through the display of more than one million Christmas lights at TPA Park.

The Santa Express will take its first trip of the season to and through TPA Park at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 7 after the 3 p.m. Christmas Parade, “It’s a Whoville Christmas.” It will continue to take passengers through the brilliant display of Christmas lights Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings through Christmas.

“They can reserve their tickets online for the Santa Express, and they can choose what time they want to go. That will go live by Friday,” said Kim Stevens, executive director of Frankfort Main Street. “That is on the Frankfort Main Street website (frankforthotdogfestival.com). They can choose their night and the time that they want to go if they purchase their tickets online. Or, they can call 654-4081 and reserve seats as well.”

This is the eighth year for the Santa Express and, much like the Holiday Festival of Lights, it grows each year. Tickets are $3 per person ages 12 and over, $2 for children ages 3-11 and free for ages 2 and younger.

“Usually, we average between 850 and 1,000 people,” Stevens said. “We are expecting more people because we are on the cover of the 2019 Indiana Festival Guide, and that went out to 500,000 people. We know that a lot more people have looked at that and are aware of what we are doing. We have had TV commercials that have been on Fox 59 and channel 13 that have helped spread the word .

“One of the things that we try to do each year is keep a tally of where people are coming from, and we have had people from 37 of the 92 counties in the state of Indiana. So, we have had people from all over the state and out of the sate who come and visit us. So, we do expect a bigger crowd.”

Frankfort Main Street will also host “Whoville Day” on Dec. 14 at Veterans Park in downtown Frankfort.

“We will have several different activities taking place,” Stevens said. “We have partnered with different groups. The YMCA is going to help with some games and activities. We are going to have a Cindy Lou Who hair competition, and the skating rink will be open for the public from 1-4 p.m. and 6-9 p.m.”

A 32-foot-by-50-foot synthetic ice rink will be located on the lot just west of Veterans Park.

“It can be used 365 days a year no matter what kind of weather,” Stevens said of the rink. “We will have it under a tent so that we can also have other activities and have some heat in there, so people can enjoy it through December and into January.

“This is something that we felt was exciting to bring to the community,” she added. “It’s different. Frankfort Main Street wants to help our downtown business by getting more people down here and this is one of the ways. They can come down, skate, have a good team, eat, shop, ride the Santa Express, visit with Santa and get their picture taken with the Grinch. So, there are lots of different things that are going to take place on that day, but then also throughout the rest of the month.”

Ice skates will be available for those who come to the rink and pay a small entry fee during designated skating hours.

Those interested in being sponsors of the ice skating rink can contact Frankfort Main Street at 654-4081.

“It’s an experience that they won’t find probably anywhere else,” said Joe Palmer, president of the board for Frankfort Main Street. “It is great for the holidays and brings the Christmas spirit to life.”

“I would say that downtown Frankfort is the destination for the Christmas season,” Stevens said. “We have a lot of family-friendly activities. We would love for people to come down and take a tour of the windows (Christmas scenes painted by local artists). I think you will find a lot of talented folks from our community who have participated. We are really excited that an individual brought this idea to Frankfort Main Street. We were thrilled with that.”

Winners of the Christmas window painting contest will be announced by Frankfort’s United Neighborhoods at 3 p.m. Sunday, upstairs in Johnny V’s Main Street Grille and Sports Pub. A day before that is “Small Business Saturday,” during which many of the downtown merchants will offer specials.