Kansas City Southern’s 16th annual Holiday Express train will stop in 22 communities in seven states on 26 dates from Nov. 25 to Dec. 20. At each stop, visitors can board the festive six-car train, visit with Santa and his elves and tour the inside of three cars. Each event is free and open to the public.
The train will depart Shreveport, LA, and make its first stop in Wylie, TX. The rest of the route covers Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri. The train arrives Union Station in Kansas City, MO, on Dec. 16 and will be parked there until Dec. 20. A public viewing from 2-5 p.m. is scheduled for Dec. 16, as well as a private event that evening.
For more than 16 years, the Holiday Express has raised well over $1 million to purchase gift cards, which are donated to The Salvation Army at each scheduled stop. Gift cards are used to purchase warm clothing and other necessities for children in the local community.
“KCS is pleased to continue its long-standing Holiday Express tradition,” said president and CEO Patrick J. Ottensmeyer after the schedule was released in September. “As a company, we value family and being responsible corporate citizens. It’s a pleasure to give back and bring the holiday spirit to communities where we operate and where our employees live and work.”
The KCS Holiday Express was built on the tradition of the Santa Train, which ran on a segment of the network bought by KCS in 1997. In 2000, a group of employees noticed that the Santa Train was the only Christmas some kids had, and that some kids did not have essential items like coats, hats and gloves, so they committed to elevating the project. In 2001, volunteers transformed a retired freight train to the experience and the company set out to reach communities throughout KCS’ U.S. service territory.
Led by KCS’ Southern Belle business train, the Holiday Express train includes a smiling tank car “Rudy”; a flatcar carrying Santa’s sleigh, reindeer and a miniature village; a ginger bread boxcar; a newly remodeled elves’ workshop; the reindeer stable; and a little red caboose. Each car is dressed in lights.