For residents of Oxford Court, construction of the court's famous 16-year-old Christmas train begins on the first day of November.
Over the span of 30 days, neighbors work together to assemble the 61 poles, 65 pieces of track, 120 pigtail wire connections, and approximately 600 feet of wiring that are required to create the track that travels Santa Claus across the span of 10 houses throughout the court—only to spend two to three weeks tearing it down once Christmas is over.
However, all of this work does not matter to the residents, who say it's worth it to put a smile on the faces of the children and adults who visit their court during the holiday season.
“The whole experience is very heartwarming and people are always appreciative,” said resident Michele Jaggers. “Neighbors put in a lot of time.”
The train itself is uniquely constructed and operated using various parts, including a motor from a children’s electric car, Rubbermaid trash cans and lids, windshield wiper motors, and a rotisserie-style spit.
Additionally on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Santa Claus himself visits the court and brings along hot chocolate and coffee. Although donations are encouraged, both are available to guests for free.
“This event is always guaranteed to bring out so much Christmas spirit,” said Jaggers.
To operate and maintain the track, neighbors rely solely on donations from the community. According to resident Robert Bolin, Santa Claus and his train draw in an estimated $1,500 to $2,500 a year.
“Donations are very important to us because without them we wouldn’t be able to do what we do,” said Bolin. “It just wouldn’t be possible.”
According to Bolin, a majority of the funds raised goes towards the cost to store the track and train throughout the year. Other funds go towards electricity and any upkeep, and the court reserves anywhere from $400 to $600 for any unforeseen emergencies.
Whatever is left from the amount they raise throughout the year makes its way to Turlock Together in the form of a monetary donation.
The Oxford Court Christmas Train is set to run every day from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. until Dec. 25.