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Let it snow! Let it snow!
Get ready for Mt. DellOsso & snow tubing plus new railroad, zip-line, light drive in Lathrop
Ron Dell’Osso inspects the wheels being refurbished for one of the passenger cars on the Dell’Osso Express.

LATHROP - The forecast for Lathrop from November to March calls for snow – lots of it.

It’s all part of Dell’Osso Farm’s latest venture dubbed “Holidays on the Farm.”

Ron Dell’Osso – Tom Sawyer’s answer to Walt Disney – will follow up on the 12th season of the wildly popular Pumpkin Maze that attracts 120,000 visitors every October with a Christmas extravaganza.

The centerpiece is a 30-foot-high hill now being created on the edge of a cornfield complete with a 200-foot drop coupled with a 100-foot run to allow people to ride inner tubes on manmade snow from mid-November to the start of March. It also will include a roof so rain doesn’t disrupt the fun.

Mt. Dell’Osso will debut Nov. 21 – the Saturday before Thanksgiving – at the same time a number of Christmas attractions will open with most being in place through Christmas Eve that – if Dell’Osso has his way – will be foggy to go with the four authentic, live reindeer you’ll be able to see as well.

The plan for Mt. Dell’Osso is to have eight inner tube lanes working at one time with the cost being $15 for unlimited use during a 90-minute period. A smaller kiddie hill will be available for the younger set.

Not a bad encore for the man who introduced the world to bazooka style “Pumpkin Blasters” that uses ammo grown on his farm – mini pumpkins.
However, if you think Mt. Dell’Osso is the only thing that is new this year, then you don’t know Ron Dell’Osso.

•A mile-long railroad has been put in place complete with train station and tunnel that will ferry up to 80 passengers on a quarter-scale train.
•A mile long Christmas lights drive complete with 500 professionally created holiday scenes.
•A zip-line – where you are strapped into a harness and attached to a pulley – will offer a thrill ride.
•A Santa’s Hut complete with a couple imported from Iowa that have earned accolades for looking just like the real Santa and Mrs. Claus.
•A general store designed for the holidays complete with gifts, fresh baked goods and other items for Christmas.
•New bounce pits where the surface is at ground level but once kids start jumping it goes up as high as three feet.

“It’s a poor man’s Disneyland,” Dell’Osso quipped.

Making it all the more amazing is the decision wasn’t made until April by the 52-year-old Dell’Osso and his wife Susan to go forward with “Holidays on the Farm.” They quickly found out that only a few have tried such an agri-business venture and none that included a snow-making machine and play hill. Banks had the same reaction that most people have had wondering whether they were a bit daffy.

The Dell’Ossos, though, forged ahead sinking their own savings into the venture.

“My son kept telling us we had to do Christmas,” Dell’Osso said of 28-year-old Brian. “We decided if we were going to do it we weren’t going to do it half way.”

Mile-long train
track now in place

The result can be seen on the Stewart Tract property fronting Interstate 5 at Mossdale Crossing in a race rising from the ground along with the annual 20-acre corn maze.

They found a quarter-scale train engine in Chicago and four replica passenger cars in Little Rock, Ark. and now are` in the process of tearing them apart and refurbishing them.

Brian led a crew for more than two weeks that did nothing but make 3,000 concrete railroad ties reinforced with rebar by hand putting in 14- to 16-hour days. They hand placed gravel after making sure each tie was level and perfectly spaced and then had a firm come in and bend steel rails for the curves.

A tunnel for the Dell’Osso Express to pass through is almost complete while construction has started on a train station.

They soon discovered that most snow-making machines required it to be 27 degrees or less. So they went to Atlanta where they found one in use during the winter at an amusement park that was able to produce  snow by taking ice that it manufactures and grinding it into shaved ice when it is 105 degrees.

“They pack all of the hotels for miles just for that one attraction,” Dell’Osso said.

They were told they are the only private venture – others are corporate amusement parks – to buy the snow making machine. PG&E is helping the Dell’Osso project meet the November deadline by upgrading their electrical service from 20 amps to 2,000 amps to run the machine 24 hours a day.

“It’s a 24-hour operation to produce the snow and have people groom it,” Dell’Osso explained.

The mile-long lights drive that will have 500 professionally designed scenes will be accessed by people driving their vehicles around the perimeter of Dell’Osso Farms.

Reindeer part
was a bit tricky

The zip-line will operate in both October and during the holidays and includes a mound created so people can land on it and then get in line for the corn maze.

The reindeer part was a bit tricky.

“We were pretty naïve,” he said. “We didn’t want deer with faked antlers attached or try to pass off caribou as reindeer. We were going to use them for sleigh rides.”

The couple quickly found out that reindeer aren’t that strong and they are susceptible to disease. They are classified by the Department of Fish & Game as exotic animals and require two years of experience before you can be licensed to handle them.

So they purchased two adults and two babies from an operation in Oregon and have contracted with the people they bought them from to serve as handlers during Holidays on the Farm. They must create an air conditioned area for them even in December and have two fences separating them from the public.

Still, Dell’Osso said it will be worth it so kids – and adults – can see real reindeer.

Plans call for turning the parking light poles into gigantic Christmas trees with presents “half the size of a pick-up truck” underneath.

Those attending this year will be able to buy Christmas trees or make wreaths and Christmas ornaments in special tents as well as drop by the general store for hot chocolate, fudge, roasted nuts and other holiday goodies.

Future plans call for an ice rink but not your garden variety one. It will be a winding passage to give the feeling of being in the woods.

“We’re not going to have everything 100 percent the first year,” Dell’Osso said. “But we’ll get there.”

Dell’Osso was inspired in part by childhood memories of traveling to Santa Cruz on Highway 12 and seeing signs for Santa’s Village.
Dell’Osso said he drove his parents nuts asking them to turn off to go there even in summer.

“I have great memories of Santa’s Village,” Dell’Osso said. “I want kids today to be able to say the same thing about here when they get older.”

To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail