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All day celebration planned for opening of Union Depot

St. Paul is marking the beginning of a new era for the historic Union Depot with an opening celebration on Dec. 8, which will be an all-day affair. 

After undergoing a $243 million renovation over the past couple of years, soon the 1920s landmark will again serve as a transit hub--this time for trains, buses, bicycle commuting and more.

The station last saw trains in 1971, according to information from the Ramsey County Regional Rail Authority.

Josh Collins, a spokesperson with the rail authority, says, "We really see this as an important celebration to mark the completion of the construction," adding, "It's a chance for the public to see their investment," and to show off a beautiful building.

Going forward, the depot will be "the living room of St. Paul," with meetings, galas and conventions happening there, he says.

People can also go to the depot to "use our wifi and get some work done," he says.

The day's celebration, which begins at 10 a.m., includes facility tours, theatrical performances, historical reenactments, music, dance, art, food and more.

The depot's history figures prominently into the event. For example, the nonprofit Bedlam Theatre will be staging performances that recreate historic moments. The theater troupe will portray soldiers returning from World War II, early immigrants arriving in the city, and more. "It'll be a fascinating artistic experience," he says. "I'm really excited about that." 

Old photos and artifacts that were uncovered during the renovation will also be on display.

The celebration also offers numerous interactive family-friendly activities, with train-themed photos, a Snoopy statue unveiling, appearances from Winter Carnival Royalty and a screening of the movie, "Elf," according to rail information. 

Metro Transit will kick off its bus service to and from the station with complimentary rides. The union depot's new website, uniondepot.org, will soon go live with free bus passes for the day.   

Furthermore, people "can learn about our growing transit system," he says. 

Next year, the Jefferson Regional Bus Lines and Amtrak Twin Cities will settle in at the depot, while the in-progress Central Corridor Light Rail Transit, which is being branded as the Green Line, will come through the station starting in 2014, according to rail information.

Also in the coming year, One-on-One Bicycle Studio in Minneapolis will open full-service bicycle center with storage space, a repair shop and lockers.

Source: Josh Collins, Ramsey County Regional Rail
Writer: Anna Pratt
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