Powered by “Rudy” the smiling tank car, the Kansas City Southern (KCS) Holiday Express, rolls into Union Station today (Friday) and will remain through Tuesday. This “holiday gift” to the community allows children young, and young at heart, to meet Santa Claus and tour the train adorned from floor to ceiling with holiday decorations, lights, wintry scenes and toy trains. Tours are free and general admission is available every day.
The KCS Holiday Express journeys across six states and 22 communities in total for the 2017 season. As tradition dictates, Union Station is honored to be the last and largest stop of its journey. In 2016, more than 19,000 enthusiastic Kansas City children, parents and grandparents experienced this sentimental holiday favorite.\
But the train brings more than just a memorable holiday experience, it delivers hope and help to children in need. This year Santa and his Elves will distribute a total of $172,500 in gift cards to The Salvation Army at stops along the route. The gift cards are designated for the purchase of warm clothing and other necessities for kids in need.
As part of the total, in addition to matching employee gifts up to $20,000, The Kansas City Southern Charitable Fund donated another $5,000 designated to support the purchase of gift cards for Hurricane Harvey-affected Holiday Express stops, including Victoria, El Campo, Kendleton and Beaumont, Texas.
Led by the Southern Belle business train, the train includes “Rudy” – the backdrop for many a photo op; a flatcar carrying Santa’s sleigh, reindeer and a miniature village; a gingerbread boxcar; the Elves’ workshop; reindeer stable; and a little red caboose. Each car is dressed in lights.
“Every year, the KCS Holiday Express train is another marvelous reminder of how magical the holidays are here at Union Station,” George Guastello, president and CEO of Union Station, said. “Countless Kansas Citians have come to see this enchanting train over the years and many come back again and again with their children and grandchildren.
“It’s a wonderful and cherished family tradition. I’d even venture to say it’s one of the most sought out holiday experiences in the area and best of all, it’s free. It combined with a packed schedule of holiday festivities is just one of the reasons why Union Station is truly home for the holidays and we recently we honored as Kansas City’s Attraction of the Year.”
The KCS Holiday Express was built on the tradition of the Santa Train, which ran on a segment of the network purchased by Kansas City Southern in 1997. In 2000, KCS employees noticed the Santa Train was the only Christmas some children had, and some did not even have essential items like coats, hats and gloves. KCS employees were so touched, they committed to elevating the project. Since its beginning in 2001, the KCS Holiday Express project has raised well over $1 million to purchase gift cards for this cause.
Remember, the Holiday Express is only here for five days so make your plans today. General Admission is still available. Dates and times to tour the Holiday Express (and visit Santa) are as follows:
Friday, December 15: 2 – 5 p.m.
Saturday, December 16: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Sunday, December 17: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Monday, December 18: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Tuesday, December 19: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Visitors are encouraged to arrive early to minimize wait time. They also note event parking applies to all Station lots during December weekends – including Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 18 and 19 – through Jan. 1. This expedites entry, parking fee collection as well as exit from the complex.
For a complete schedule of events for Union Station’s Holiday Celebration – “Holidays Come Alive” – please visit UnionStation.org/