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story.lead_photo.caption COURTESY PHOTO/Kansas City Southern's Holiday Express will be stopping in Anderson next Monday, Dec. 11. COURTESY PHOTO/Kansas City Southern's Holiday Express will be stopping in Anderson next Monday, Dec. 11.

The highly-acclaimed KCS Holiday Express is scheduled to visit Anderson from 4 to 8 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 11.

At each stop along the rails, visitors can board the train, visit with Santa and his elves and tour the inside of three cars of the festive six-car train. 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 a miniature village; a gingerbread boxcar; an elves' workshop; the reindeer stable; and a little red caboose. Each car is dressed in lights. The event is free and open to the public.

City Hall Park will be alive with the holiday spirit as well.

"We want it to be a "Christmas street-fair" atmosphere for visitors to the train, " said Ken Schutten, president of the Anderson Betterment Club. "We have several food and retail vendors planning to set up in City Hall Park that night. We'll have food trucks and vendors offering barbecue, hamburgers, hot dogs, baked goods, kettle corn, funnel cakes, tamales, hot chocolate and more. Plus we have live music lined up, including a special Christmas performance from the Mc Donald County High School Band. We want it to be a great event for the visitors who are coming to Anderson."

Kansas City Southern plans to have the train's engine sitting just south of the Beaver Street crossing. People will enter the train south of the depot, walk through the decorated cars and exit into the historic train depot which is now Anderson's City Hall. Kids will be able to visit with Santa, who will be waiting inside the depot.

"The workers at City Hall have done a great job decorating the historic depot for Christmas," said Schutten. "This is one of the only stops on this tour where visitors will actually get off the train and enter a historic depot -- just like when the passenger trains used to run through town."

As a reminder to those who plan to visit the train, organizers say that parking may be challenging. Authorities plan to block Beaver Street at Sycamore street up to Highway 59. Parking will be available on Main Street, at the Town Hole parking area and on streets throughout town. Organizers are asking visitors to please be respectful of other people's property as they look for places to park.

In addition to free, public events, KCS' Holiday Express has a charitable component. Over the past 16 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 need in the local community.

This year, KCS will work with the Salvation Army to target communities along the route most impacted by Hurricane Harvey for additional support, including Victoria, El Campo, Kendleton and Beaumont, Texas. For these communities, the KCS Charitable Fund will make a supplemental donation to provide additional support as they recover from the hurricane.

KCS and its employees have previously given over $100,000 to the American Red Cross for Hurricane Harvey relief.

"In 2017, KCS celebrates 130 years of doing business and the 17th annual KCS Holiday Express. As a company, we value family and community, which is why we are pleased to continue this long-standing tradition of making the holidays a little brighter in communities where we live and work," said president and chief executive officer Patrick J. Ottensmeyer. "This year, we want to give extra attention to the communities along the route impacted by Hurricane Harvey."

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 warmhearted KCS employees noticed that the Santa Train was the only Christmas some kids had, and that some kids did not 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.

Community on 12/07/2017

Print Headline: Holiday Express to stop in Anderson on Monday

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