KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KTAL/KSHV) – Kansas City Southern (KCS) Railroad on Monday announced the KCS Holiday Express train will not be rolling through Shreveport and 20 other cities this year due to COVID concerns.
This is the second year the popular fundraiser for local Salvation Army installations in 21 cities, which includes those in Shreveport and Ashdown, Ark., has had to cancel it.
The year is the 21st anniversary of the popular Holiday Express partnership with The Salvation Army on its U.S. rail network, and it will be greatly missed by local parents who brought their children as the train rolled through cities and was a great way to kick off the Christmas season.
In its first 19 years, the KCS Holiday Express train stopped in 20 or more communities in five or six states between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Traditionally, the train drew large crowds and featured free public events – at each stop, visitors could board the train, meet Santa and his elves and tour the inside of three cars of the festive six-car train.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, KCS will not operate its Holiday Express train, which traditionally draws large crowds in free, public events.
KCS President and CEO Patrick J. Ottensmeyer, emphasized that although the trains won’t run this year, the fundraiser for the Salvation Army presses on.
“While it’s still not safe to gather for visits with Santa and tours through the train, the true stars of the show are The Salvation Army and the work it does all year round.”
Major Kelly Collins, divisional commander of The Salvation Army Kansas and Western Missouri Division, also weighed in.
“In this pandemic, the fastest increasing area of need is for families who will be unable to pay their rent or mortgages and face eviction,” Collins said. “The donations The Salvation Army will receive through the KCS Holiday Express will keep families in their homes and keep hope marching on for them into 2022.”
In addition to Shreveport and Ashdown, the communities that will receive the funds raised for The Salvation Army include Baton Rouge, DeQuincy and Gonzalez, La.; Mena, Ark.; Houston, Laredo, Port Arthur, Victoria and Wylie, Texas; Poteau and Stilwell, Okla.; Corinth, Jackson, Meridian and Vicksburg, Miss.; Kansas City and Slater, Mo.; East St. Louis, Ill.; and Pittsburg, Kan.
Over the last two decades, the charitable component of the KCS Holiday Express project has raised well over $2.6 million for the Salvation Army.
Anyone interested in making a tax-deductible contribution to the 2021 KCS Holiday Express fundraising campaign may do so at https://donate.salarmymokan.org/KCSHolidayExpress2021.