Christmas came early for Sunnyvale Chris Rene fans Leilani Howard, 12 and Gabby Bergkamp, 13. They got to sit on a train, get autographs and hugs and pictures from the singer who inspired them so much they made shirts honoring him.
"We love his music," they said, looking nervous as the most famous person they had ever met moved closer up the vintage rail car that is part of Santa Cruz's newest tourist attraction.
Rene was enlisted by Grind Out Hunger, which sold tickets for as much as $50 to meet and greet the star. The money, $2,500, went to fight hunger in the organization geared toward enlisting younger people in fighting children's hunger.
Two cars sold out for the hour-long ride to the lit up Christmas Town near Wilder Ranch.
The girls got the trip as an early Christmas gift from mother Crystal Pham, who seemed almost as excited to meet Rene and his mother, who was also on the train.