Holiday Express train coming to the Crossroads
IF YOU GO
Dec. 1 at 4 p.m.Business U.S. 59 and Burroughsville Road, Victoria
Dec. 2 at 4 p.m.Wells Street, Edna
Dec. 3 at 4 p.m.Evans Park, El Campo
Dec. 4 at 4 p.m.Southern Pacific Railroad Depot, 100 N. Sunset St., Wharton
The 13th annual Holiday Express, a six-car Christmas-light adorned train carrying Santa Claus, reindeer and elves, is making four stops in the Crossroads between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Nichole Boots, 33, of Victoria, said she brought her family to the train in 2011 and plans to bring them again this year.
"The rail cars are decorated 360 degrees with Christmas," Boots said. "The train is magical to toddlers and small children."
The Holiday Express will be open to the public in 20 communities in six states on 24 dates, according to a news release from the railroad. Access to the train is free.
As part of the Kansas City Southern Holiday Express Program, gift cards are given to The Salvation Army in each community that the train stops. The gift cards are for children's warm clothing and other necessities for underprivileged children.
This year, the program will give away $174,290 in gift cards along the route, 61 percent more than it gave out last year and a record-high for the program, according to the news release.
The Holiday Express began in 2001 and was inspired by the Santa Train, which ran on a railroad purchased by Kansas City Southern in 1997. The Kansas City Southern Holiday Express project has donated more than $1.3 million in gift cards since its inception.
Because the Holiday Express cannot cover the entire U.S. network each year, the train alternates line segments and stops in different communities, according to the news release.
Maribel Escalera, 27, of Victoria, brought her oldest daughter, Rylee Ybarra, now 10, to see the train when it stopped in Victoria in 2009. Escalera said they waited in the cold for two hours to see the train.
It was worth it, she said. Escalera will bring her family again this year.
"It made me feel like Christmas inside," Escalera said.