The holiday train will stop in Neosho at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 8, at 211 E Coler St., close to the former Coler Street railroad crossing, near Twin Rivers Foods.
Visitors can board the train, visit with Santa and his elves and tour the inside of three cars of the festive six-car train. It is free and open to the public.
The KCS Holiday Express made its last stop in Neosho in 2010.
“We’re so pleased that the KCS Holiday Express is coming back to the Neosho community,” said Neosho City Manager Troy Royer. “It’s a great, fun public outing, with a great cause behind it.”
In addition to free, public events, KCS’ Holiday Express has a charitable component. Over 15 years, the project has raised well over $1 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 the local community.
The 2015 fundraising effort is in memory of a special member of the KCS Holiday Express family, Willis F. Kilpatrick, who passed away in June. Kilpatrick was among the founders of the KCS Holiday Express in 2001 and was its head elf through 2012, retiring in early 2013.
“It was Willis’ leadership, inspiration and tremendous heart that made the train and the charitable initiative the wonderful experience that communities enjoy today,” said KCS chief executive officer David L. Starling. “It is with gratitude for Willis’ contributions that we honor his memory.”
The 2015 KCS Holiday Express theme is Darby Bear. In recent years, one of the toys in the free gift bags for kids has been a small teddy bear in the colors of a KCS locomotive. This year’s bear is called “Darby,” a nickname given to Kilpatrick by his family. The bear is yellow, his favorite color.
Anyone interested in making a tax-deductible contribution to the 2015 Holiday Express fundraising campaign may do so online from the Holiday Express section of www.kcsouthern.com or by clicking here. The campaign will close Oct. 31.
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. 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 even 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.
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 miniature village; a ginger bread boxcar; a newly remodeled elves’ workshop; the reindeer stable; and a little red caboose. Each car is dressed in lights.