CSX, Food City, the Kingsport Tennessee Area Chamber of Commerce and Kids Wish Network all coming together to ensure that thousands of families in the rural towns along the Santa Train route have a very Merry Christmas. The event is the largest Santa Parade covering 110-miles of track through several towns of the Appalachia where volunteers hand out gifts, candy and toys to children in Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee.
The Santa Train made its inaugural run in 1943 and makes fourteen scheduled stops along the route - from Shelby to Elkhorn City in Kentucky; Clinchco to St. Paul in Virginia; and Waycross to Kingsport in Tennessee. This year, the train is made up of nine historic Pullman cars, each with its own exciting history and legendary tales of their own, now used for special events such as this one. Stories about the train are varied but most believe that when it made its first journey as the Santa Special, it was only one train car with a meager load of gifts and quite possibly the only toys received by the children of these towns during World War II. This year, the train will haul over 15 tons of toys, gifts and candy and over 50 volunteers who will go out into the crowds at each stop with color coded sacks geared to a child of a certain age group and gender and ensure that everyone gets a gift.
I am so excited and honored to be a part of this ongoing tradition. From the initial loading of the train this past week to the actual event with my daughter this coming Saturday - I am thrilled to take part in this historical tradition that serves communities touched by our rails. Just another example of how a small gesture can turn into something special.