Members of the Public Invited to Join in the Fun

The Riverside Transit Agency (RTA) Board Member Ike Bootsma is a man who wears many hats. This time of year, when the winter chill hits hard, he trades his familiar lawmaker hat for a jolly red plush one, trimmed with faux fur and a white pom-pom at the end.

Bootsma will put on his Santa hat this Friday, December 13, for a special event that begins at the Riverside-Downtown Metrolink Station, 4066 Vine St., at 3:45 p.m. and continues aboard a free shuttle to the annual Festival of Lights at Riverside’s Historic Mission Inn.

The event will give children of all ages the opportunity to meet Santa while they take in the sights and sounds of the festival. Santa’s bus ride, which lasts until 5:30 p.m. aboard the free shuttle, is the brainchild of the Northwest Chapter of Transportation NOW (T-NOW), which promotes public transportation in Riverside County.

For years, Bootsma has played Santa at holiday parades, elementary schools and various city events. Looks like he might be starting a tradition of appearing inside RTA buses.

“Being Santa comes easy for me,” said Bootsma, an Eastvale resident, former City Councilman and a current representative of Riverside County District 2 Supervisor Karen Spiegel on the RTA Board of Directors. “There’s a certain joy that comes over people when they meet Santa and I’m so happy to be part of it.”

Bootsma is also a longstanding member of T-NOW, which is a grassroots group — ranging from elected officials to community activists to everyday transit users — who are committed to not only to addressing regional transportation issues but also meeting the needs of our individual communities.

The free RTA shuttle runs Fridays and Saturdays during the Festival of Lights, offering afternoon and evening service from the train station to the festival. The shuttle runs from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. with service every 15 minutes through December 21. For routes and schedules, visit

“This free shuttle is a great opportunity for people to leave their cars at home and enjoy a great evening at the Festival of Lights,” said RTA Chair Bridgette Moore. “And with Santa on board, there’s never been a better time to ride the bus.”

RIVERSIDE, CA — December 12, 2019