Coronavirus cancels train, but ‘Holiday Express’ fundraising is full speed ahead
For nearly two decades, the Kansas City Southern Railroad has dispatched a “KCS Holiday Express” to communities across the South and Midwest to spread good cheer and raise funds for The Salvation Army. The COVID-19 outbreak has canceled this year’s excursion, but the fund-raising will go on.
The Kansas City, Missouri-based railroad has set up a 2020 KCS Holiday Express website where donations can be made: http://www.salarmy.us/HolidayExpress
Traditionally, the Holiday Express has stopped in 20 or more communities, drawing big crowds in five or six states between Thanksgiving and Christmas. At each stop, visitors can board the train, meet Santa and his elves, and tour three cars of a six-car train festooned in holiday lights and decorations. Funds raised at each stop go toward warm clothing and other necessities for children in need.
“While it is not safe to gather for free visits with Santa Claus and tours of the Holiday Express train this year, the need for the charitable component of the program is greater than ever,” said Patrick J. Ottensmeyer, KCS president and CEO.
The KCS Holiday Express has raised more than $2.1 million for The Salvation Army over the last 19 years. Communities designated to receive funds this year include Beaumont, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Houston, Laredo and Port Arthur in Texas; Baton Route, New Orleans, Shreveport and Westlake in Louisiana; Gulfport, Jackson and Vicksburg in Mississippi; Decatur, Arkansas; and Heavener, Oklahoma.
The 2020 train honors one of the event’s founding elves, Tillie Caileff, who was integral to the Holiday Express program’s success and who passed away earlier this year.