Well, it won't be the Polar Express from the movie, but it will be the next best thing. The 15th annual Holiday Express of Kansas City Southern (KCS) is scheduled for a stop in Ashdown, Ark., this Saturday, Dec. 5, at approximately 4PM on Main St. near U.S. Highway 71.

The Holiday Express train will include a smiling tank car named "Rudy," a flat car that carries Santa’s sleigh, reindeer, and miniature village. In addition, the lighted train will also feature a gingerbread box car, a newly remodeled elves' workshop, reindeer stable, and a little red caboose. And the best part, being able to board the train to visit with Santa Claus and his jolly elves, and tour three cars out of the six car train.

The cost is absolutely free to the general public. This year the train's theme is Darby bear, meaning in recent years one of the toys in the free gift bags for children has been a small teddy bear featuring the colors of the KCS train. This bear is given in honor of Darby, a nick-name for Willis F. Kilpatrick, a cherished family member of the Holiday Express who passed away in June of this year.

A few years ago, I had the honor of climbing on board the train a few miles out of Texarkana and got to ride it into to town. I loved seeing the kids' eyes light up and the hear the cheers when the train pulled into its destination. Ever since I was small child, trains have always fascinated me because there was always something special and magical about riding a train.

On each stop for the past 15 years now, the KCS program has raised more than $1 million to help purchase gift cards, which are then given to the local Salvation Army so they can provide warm clothing and other items for children in need in our community.

So bundle up the kids and family and take the short drive to Ashdown this Saturday evening for the KCS Holiday Express. Choo Choo baby!

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