In its eighth annual run, Kansas City Southern’s Holiday Express train will bring Santa Claus and his elves to visit Leesville at 4 p.m. on Nov. 30 at the KCS yard located at 910 S. 3rd Street in Leesville. The stop will be one of 23 in 21 communities in eight states throughout the company's service territory. In addition to being a free, public event, the Holiday Express has a charitable component.
At each stop, KCS will make a contribution of Walmart gift cards to the local Salvation Army to provide warm clothing for children in need. Thanks to contributions from KCS’ employees, vendors and friends, KCS raised $126,200 to purchase gift cards - a nearly three percent increase over the 2007 campaign, despite current concerns with the economy.
“On behalf of Kansas City Southern and the communities we serve, we are most grateful to our employees, vendors and friends, who have made such generous contributions during these uncertain times,” said KCS chairman and chief executive officer Michael R. Haverty. “We hope the Holiday Express project will help to make a difference in the lives of children in need this holiday season.”
Led by KCS’ Southern Belle business train, the six-car Holiday Express train includes a smiling tank car “Rudy”; a flat car carrying Santa’s sleigh, reindeer and a miniature village; a ginger bread box car; the elves’ workshop; the reindeer’s stable; and a little red caboose. The Holiday Express was created in 2001 after volunteers dedicated over 8,000 hours to the rigorous transformation of the retired freight train. Festive music and lights complete the package.
The Holiday Express train was built on the tradition of the former Gateway Western (GWWR) Santa Train, which made stops in small towns from East St. Louis, Ill. to Blue Springs, Mo. (GWWR was purchased by KCS in 1997.) In 2000, KCS employees noticed that the Santa Train was the only Christmas some kids had, and that some did not even have essential items like coats, hats and gloves. The employees were so touched that they committed to elevating the project to the experience that communities throughout KCSR's service area enjoy today.
The train will be in Leesville for as long as there are people in line, said a spokesperson.
More information, including a train schedule and pictures, can be found under Holiday Express in the General Public section of www.kcsouthern.com.