KCS Holiday Express to roll into Vicksburg
Published 7:00 pm Tuesday, November 20, 2018
Every other year the Kansas City Southern Holiday Express train makes its way to Vicksburg, and this year during its 18th annual run, the train is scheduled to arrive in the River City at 4 p.m. Nov. 27 at 1000 Levee St.
As one of the stops in the holiday train’s 22-community — eight state journey, locals will have the opportunity to view the festive six-car train, which includes smiling tank car Rudy; a flatcar carrying Santa’s sleigh; reindeer and a miniature village; a gingerbread boxcar; the elves’ workshop, the reindeer stable and a little red caboose, all dressed in lights.
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The holiday magic continues as visitors can board the train, visit with Santa and his elves and tour the inside of three cars.
In addition to being a free event offered to communities, the KCS’ Holiday Express has a charitable component, KCS president and chief executive officer Patrick J. Ottensmeyer said.
“Over the past 17 years, the project has raised more than $2 million to purchase gift cards, which are donated to The Salvation Army at each scheduled stop. These gift cards are used to purchase warm clothing and other necessities for children in need in the local community,” Ottensmeyer said.
“KCS is proud to continue this long-standing tradition of bringing joy to communities throughout our network with the Holiday Express train,” he said, adding, “This project brings people together, helps build relationships in the community and supports our corporate vision and values.”
This year, the Holiday Express train will distribute a total of $171,756 in gift cards to the Salvation Army during stops along the route.
Capt. Steve Welch of the Vicksburg Salvation Army said in the past these gift cards have been handed out to the local chapter after the holiday train arrives, and they are then distributed to those in need.
“The cards are given to families who have requested assistance at Christmas and who have applied here (Vicksburg Salvation Army Office),” Welch said.
Gift cards may also be distributed to those who were on the Angel Tree that were not adopted, Welch said.
As to the number of gift cards or the dollar amount that will be given to the Vicksburg Salvation Army, Welch did not know since it varies from year to year.
“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,” corporate communications and community affairs spokesperson for the Kansas City Southern Railway Company C. Doniele Carlson said.
According to Carlson, in 2000, a group of warm-hearted KCS 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 that communities throughout KCS’ U.S. service territory enjoy today,” Carlson said, and added, “The last time the KCS Holiday Express stopped in Vicksburg, 2,878 visitors passed through the train.”