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A Christmas Favorite Returns

December 8, 2014

By Joel Counce jcounce@themeridianstar.com | Posted: Thursday, December 4, 2014 5:00 am

Kansas City Southern Holiday Express Train returns to Union Station

    Thousands – from the young, to the young-at-heart – lined the street in front of Union Train Station (and beyond) Wednesday evening for one of the most highly anticipated holiday experiences.

    For the second time in three years, the Kansas City Southern Holiday Express Train pulled into Union Station – one of 21 stops included on its 24-day tour through seven states.

    "We brought the Holiday Express here to bring all the elves and Santa to experience Christmas with the kids," said Grant Elliott, head elf with the Kansas City Southern Holiday Express Train.

    "This is a great opportunity for adults and children alike to come down and experience Christmas and the spirit of giving," Elliott said.

    More than 2,000 visitors turned out at Union Station, with the line beginning to form at 3 p.m. for the walk-through and visit with Santa that opened an hour later. Among those waiting was Lasondra Calhoun, who brought her sons Gregory, 8, Lajaden, 6, and nephew Caleb, 3.

    "I want to see Santa Claus," Lajaden said. "We just want to have fun."

    Derilyn Geddie brought her three children and 10-year-old niece, Kadence Banaka from Brandon.

    "It was really fun," Kadence said of the train.

    Jaylin Geddie, 11, said she wanted to see the train because, "It looked fun. It was really great; they had a lot of decorations."

    The Kansas City Southern Holiday Express Train made its first stop on Nov. 28 in Baton Rouge, La., and will complete the tour in Kansas City, Mo., on Dec. 21.

    The six-car train is led by KCS’ Southern Belle business train, and includes a smiling tank car called “Rudy,” a flatcar carrying Santa’s sleigh, reindeer and a miniature village.

    The first train car features a decorated living room, blue walls with a fireplace and a white decorated Christmas tree. The second car holds figurines, including a Barbie Christmas scene; the third, two different train sets – both with downtown scenes and lit-up marquees on miniature movie theaters. One has a ski lift. The fourth and final car has assorted Santa Claus dolls and figurines.

    The Kansas City Southern Holiday Express Train embarked on its first tour in 2001, and first visited Meridian in 2010. At each stop, train employees present several $25 gift cards to local Salvation Army chapters at each stop.

    "We're very happy to have them," said Union Statin Manager Maurice Strickland, "We get lots of calls about it. People want to know what time they need to be here so they don't miss it.

    "I hope we have them again, probably in two years," Strickland said.