Kansas City Southern’s Holiday Express will be open for all kids, regardless of age, at 4 p.m. Dec. 12 in Poteau.
The KCS Holiday Express is a festive, six-car train that brings Santa Claus and his elves to communities throughout the company's U.S. rail network at scheduled stops. Guests to the train can visit with Santa Claus and walk through three cars filled with holiday displays. Each event is free, open to the public and no tickets are required.
In addition, at each scheduled stop, a charitable contribution is made to the local Salvation Army to provide warm clothes and other necessities for children in need.
The Holiday Express was created in 2001 as volunteers dedicated more than 8,000 hours to transform retired rail cars. Led by KCS’ 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 box car; an elves’ workshop; the reindeer stable; and a little red caboose. Each car is dressed in lights.
KCS spokeswoman C. Doniele Carlson said the Holiday Express will pass through Sallisaw on the way to Gravette, Ark., but she could not say exactly when because the Express must travel around freight train schedules. She added that the Express does not travel with its lights on.
The Holiday Express will distribute a total of $153,290 in gift cards to The Salvation Army at stops along the Holiday Express route. The gift cards are designated for the purchase of warm clothing and other necessities for kids in need, said Carlson.
Patrick J. Ottensmeyer, KCS president and chief executive officer, said, “On behalf of the employees of Kansas City Southern, we look forward to bringing Santa Claus and his elves on the Holiday Express train to communities throughout our U.S. service territory, and we are especially pleased to continue the tradition of charitable giving in each community where the train will stop.”
Ottensmeyer said special thanks are due to the major sponsors who helped make this year’s charitable contribution possible, including Bartlett Grain, Burris Logistics, The Kansas City Southern Charitable Fund, Kansas City Southern Historical Society, Michael and Marlys Haverty Family Foundation, Patrick Ottensmeyer Family Fund, R.J. Corman Railroad Group, Steel Dynamics and Watco Companies. Additional sponsors are listed on the KCS website.
The train will stop in 22 communities in seven states on 26 dates. The complete schedule is available on the KCS website. Poteau is the only stop in Oklahoma on the schedule.
The KCS Holiday Express was built on the tradition of the Santa Train, which ran on a rail line bought by KCS in 1997.
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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