ALL ABOARD! Holiday Express rolls into Vicksburg
Published 9:12 pm Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Excitement filled the air last night as children of all ages waited in anticipation to board the Kansas City Southern Holiday Express train, which made its stop in Vicksburg near the Old Depot Museum across from Catfish Row.
This year marks the train’s 18th run across the country and the third time it has made a stop in Vicksburg.
Email newsletter signup
Three-year-old Brady Franklin, along with his grandmother, Jackie Franklin, drove from Jackson to get a glimpse inside the train.
“I liked to see the train. It was good,” Brady Franklin said.
Jackie Franklin said the pair stood in line for about 45 minutes before they were able to board, but the wait was worth it.
“The line goes fast and at the end the children are given a ‘goody bag,’” Jackie Franklin said.
Vicksburg resident Cassandra Woods also brought her grandsons, Trace Scott and Clayton Canda, to see the train.
“This is the second year we have come to see the train. I like to bring my grand-boys to see everything. I like all the cars and all the old-fashioned scenery. It is just beautiful,” Woods said.
The last time the Holiday Express train made its way to the River City was in 2016 and that year more than 2,800 spectators came out, manager of facilities and heritage operations at Kansas City Southern and also known as the Head Elf, Grant Elliott said.
“And I expect that easily tonight,” he said.
People come from all over to see the Holiday Express train, Elliot said.
With a 22 community — eight state journey — thousands will board the 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.
“We actually met a family three or four nights ago that had traveled over six hours. They make it a tradition to travel somewhere on our schedule that they have never been, creating a vacation around the Holiday Express,” Elliot said.
As a public relations goodwill project, the Holiday Express train gives back to communities through which they operate, Elliot said, and this year more than $175,000 was raised to distribute to the local Salvation Armies at each stop.
“This year we raised more money than we have ever raised in the 18 years of the Holiday Express,” he said.
Gift cards are distributed to the individual Salvation Armies based on their population, he said, adding, “We don’t disclose the number of gift cards distributed at each community.”
Maj. Steve Welch of the Vicksburg Salvation Army said the gift cards are given to families who have requested assistance at Christmas and who have applied at the Vicksburg Salvation Army Office. Gift cards may also be distributed to those on the Angel Tree who are not adopted, Welch said.
The train tours started at 4 p.m. and lasted until the last person in line was able to board the train.