Santa’s Paradise Express train rides look a bit different than in years past.

The annual holiday train ride takes passengers from Strasburg to Paradise and back, with Santa as the special guest. But there aren't any packed train cars this year, and a mask covers the face of the ride’s VIP, along with all the passengers. 

The railroad is operating at 50% capacity and spacing families out throughout the train cars, usually keeping a seat or two between parties. 

Santa Claus, who’s been portrayed by Dick Hoffman of Fayetteville, Pa., for the past three years, still makes his way down the aisle of seats, stopping to ask children for their Christmas wishes and hands out a gift to all the passengers. 

The ride takes passengers through Lancaster County countryside with views of farmers, cows and waving train fanatics parked at railroad crosses with video cameras set up to catch the locomotive. 

Along with the changes in capacity and the mask-wearing mandate, after every ride, the cars are all wiped down by employees with disinfectant. 

Hoffman, who’s been Santa Claus around Pennsylvania for the past few decades, said he really enjoys the rides. 

“My favorite part is putting a smile on someone else’s face,” Hoffman said. “Even though it was hard to see this year.”