Batesville community leaders say Polar Express could possibly return

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BATESVILLE, Miss. – The Polar Express could be rolling again in Batesville if the right investors are willing to hop on board.

“I’m a very optimistic person, and anyone can tell you here and I’m very hopeful. I really am,” said Joe Azar, CEO of Panola Partnership.

Azar says these cars are what’s left of the Train to Christmas Town that weren’t part of the bankruptcy filed by Ed Ellis, who owned Granada Railroad and operated the holiday attraction in Batesville. It derailed last December, leaving ticket holders out of luck.

“Unfortunately, he fell into bankruptcy last year, right at the end of our season and was unable to refund everyone for their tickets,” Azar said.

At the time, WREG spoke with many ticketholders who were outraged they couldn’t get their money refunded.

If investors come forward as hoped, Batesville will bring the train back.

“If we bring this event back, it will be Polar Express. That’s the only event we’re going to have here. We’re not going to have the Train to Christmas Town. It will be the Polar Express,” said Batesville mayor Jerry Autrey.

Autrey admits there are still a lot of pieces to the puzzle before the train can return to Batesville. The train means thousands will return to boost the local economy and, perhaps what’s just as important, make people realize what happened wasn’t the city’s fault.

“It really broke our hearts for our community to kind of get a bad name with some of the things that happened this past year,” said Mamie Avery, director of Batesville Main Street. “Unfortunately, it really wasn’t Batesville’s fault or the people who ran the train’s fault locally.”

There’s nothing planned for this year, but Christmas 2021 could be a possibility.

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