KANSAS CITY, MO – Kansas City Southern says that its KCS Holiday Express train won’t run this holiday season because of the pandemic. But that isn’t stopping the Class I railroad from continuing its annual giving tradition.
Each year since 2001, the Holiday Express has stopped at various towns along KCS’s network and donated more than $2.1 million to the Salvation Army. The donations help provide warm clothing and other necessities for children.
While the train led by KCS’s Southern Belle business train is idled, KCS will still celebrate the event’s 20th anniversary with a fundraiser to benefit the Salvation Army in 20 communities across its U.S. rail network.
“KCS is pleased to celebrate 20 years of its Holiday Express program benefiting The Salvation Army in communities throughout our U.S. rail network,” said KCS president and CEO Patrick J. Ottensmeyer. “While it is not safe to gather for free visits with Santa Claus and tours of the Holiday Express train this year, the need for the charitable component of this program is greater than ever.”
The 20 communities that will receive the funds raised for The Salvation Army include Kansas City, Joplin and Mexico, MO; Beaumont, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Houston, Laredo and Port Arthur, TX; Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Shreveport and Westlake, LA; Gulfport, Jackson and Vicksburg, MS; Decatur, AR; East St. Louis, IL; Pittsburg, KS and Heavener, OK.
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. The following year, volunteers transformed a retired freight train to the KCS Holiday Express experience, which has drawn large crowds since.
This year, KCS honors one of the founding volunteer elves, Tillie Caileff, who was integral to the Holiday Express program’s success, and who passed away earlier this year.
In each of the past 19 years, the KCS Holiday Express train stopped in 20 or more communities in five or six states between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Led by KCS’s 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 gingerbread boxcar; a newly remodeled elves’ workshop; the reindeer stable; and a little red caboose. Each car is dressed in lights.
At each stop, visitors could board the train, meet Santa and his elves and tour the inside of three of the cars.
Tax-deductible contribution to the 2020 KCS Holiday Express fundraising campaign may be made at http://www.salarmy.us/HolidayExpress .