Local children delight at Christmas-themed train

Published 9:42 am Thursday, December 1, 2016

Christmas cheer made a stop on the railroad in Vicksburg Wednesday night.

Santa Claus and a group of elves spent the evening outside the Old Depot Museum at Catfish Row greeting the people of Vicksburg and letting them tour the Kansas City Southern Holiday Express.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

“This is a public relations goodwill project that we use to give back to our communities through which we operate,” said Grant Elliott, manager of facilities and heritage operations at Kansas City Southern and also known as the Head Elf.

Just an hour into the night’s festivities, 1,156 people had been counted in attendance.

“We normally have really good crowds like this,” Elliott said. “This is a good turnout.”

The three cars open to the public were packed with holiday décor, model train sets and an expansive miniature Christmas village with ski lifts and theaters in the town.

“We change things up every year,” Elliott said of the decorations.

Children were given a gift bag of puzzles, candy and crayons as they exited the train. The outside of the train was covered in lights with holiday music playing.

The train just started its 16th journey across the southeast Friday in Wylie, Texas and will chug through 22 stops in seven states before wrapping up the show with a five day stand in Kansas City, Missouri from Dec. 16 through 20.

“It’s an amazing treat for children and families, and it’s become a holiday tradition for many families in the towns we stop in,” Elliott said.

Most families waited about 20 to 30 minutes to board the train and take a picture with Santa. Jeni Oberg brought her children Emery, 4, and Lincoln, almost 2, from Clinton, but once they sat in Santa’s lap a few tears were shed.

“They did not want to sit on Santa’s lap,” Oberg said. “It was still good.”

Cammie and Robert Mashburn came from Bolton to bring their children Kinley, 4, and Jax, 2, to the see the train.

“They had a great time,” she said. “They loved it.”

She said the colorful, bright lights and sparkling decorations really got the children’s attention, and they were excited to get to meet Santa.

“We got some good pictures. They enjoyed Santa. Both of them were great. They loved it. He was mesmerized. He didn’t want to leave,” Cammie said.

“I like Santa,” Kinley said.

The train tours started at 4 p.m. and lasted until the last person in line was able to board the train and meet St. Nick before the Holiday Express left for its next stop.

Kansas City Southern collects donations online and through sponsorships with businesses during the year to donate gift cards to the Salvation Army in each town the train visits.

“Once the donations are closed for the year, we then distribute that lump sum, that total amount of money, to each of our stops. It’s based on that town’s population,” Elliott said. “We donate Wal-Mart gift cards. The reason we work with the Salvation Army is because they know what families and what children are in need, and they are able to assist them directly.”