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Photos: The Hancock Tower's Holiday Train Chugs On From The 94th Floor

By Jessica Mlinaric in Arts & Entertainment on Nov 20, 2015 5:40PM

A beloved Chicago tradition will be chugging back into town this holiday season. The holiday train that circled the Hancock Building’s lobby for years until 2012 has returned and is setting its sights even higher. Visitors can enjoy the holiday train in its new home at 360 CHICAGO on the Hancock’s 94th floor from Nov. 20 through Jan. 3, 2016.

Running along the perimeter of the Hancock Center’s observation deck, the train is set against spectacular city views more than 1,000 feet above Michigan Avenue. The display features a custom scenescape that includes Chicago tributes and ranges in height from six inches to eleven feet. Designed by a team of retired Chicago policemen and engineers, the intricate scene takes three weeks to build.

“You’ve got to see it to believe it,” said Dave Pietrowski, a seasoned train engineer and 33 year police veteran. According to Pietrowski, the design team’s goal is to fit as much as they can in a limited space. This year’s display boasts over 500 feet of wiring, more than 1,000 Christmas trees, lights on every building, and animations galore. “There’s a lot of traffic on this little bit of space,” he said.

For Pietrowski, seeing children interact with the holiday train takes him back to his own train fascination as a kid. He enjoys bringing train hobbies back to life for older visitors and interacting with guests who have traveled from other countries to see Chicago during the holidays. Holiday train devotees are quick to point out Pietrowski’s latest innovations. “We see some visitors every season and they always know what’s new this year,” he said.

According to Nichole Williamson, general manager of 360 CHICAGO, the 2015 train promises to be more spectacular than ever. “We are thrilled to give the holiday train a new home at 360 CHICAGO and to give our guests the opportunity to experience its magic.”

During the run of the holiday train kids admission is 50% off with a free hot chocolate with a paid adult admission.

360 CHICAGO is open 365 days a year from 9am to 11pm. For more information, visit their website.