KANSAS CITY — In its ninth annual run, Kansas City Southern’s Holiday Express train will bring Santa Claus and his elves on 23 dates to 22 communities in eight states throughout the company’s service territory, including Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas and Illinois. Access to the Holiday Express train is free and open to the public.
“Like many companies in North America, the economy has had a significant effect on our business, so we had to think carefully about whether to run the Holiday Express train this year,” said KCS chairman and chief executive officer Michael R. Haverty. “We decided the goodwill, contributions to those in need and the holiday spirit that the Holiday Express generates in communities by bringing Santa to town is even more important this year.”
“The Holiday Express is also a source of pride for our employees, and it’s important to us that they know this is a good place to work,” Haverty said. “When we thought about what the Holiday Express means to communities and our employees, there was no question that the train should run again in 2009.”
In addition to bringing Santa Claus and his elves to many communities, the Holiday Express also has a charitable component. At each scheduled stop, The KCS Charitable Fund 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, The KCS Charitable Fund raised $112,825 in 2009 to purchase gift cards.
Special thanks to the major sponsors, who helped make the charitable contribution possible, including Michael and Marlys Haverty, DST Systems, Inc., Greenberg Traurig, LLP, Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, Morgan Keegan and Watco Companies.
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.