The Holiday Express brings the joy of Christmas to LaPlace

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 4, 2006


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE-The Holiday Express proved to be a big success when it pulled into LaPlace on Tuesday. A line of excited children extended well beyond the Percy Hebert building where the had stopped, almost to Main Street. The Holiday Express is in its sixth year of operation and is run by Kansas City Southern railroad.

Children and adults alike were all smiles when they boarded the train. The highlight, of course, was Santa and families were allowed to bring their own cameras so they could take pictures with the big guy himself for free.

Upon first entering the three-car walking tour, a cheerful laugh could be heard in a corner of the car where Santa sat on a satin-like white chair where he was listening to Christmas wishes. It was a premier photo opportunity for children and parents.

For train-lovers, the second car had two amazing exhibits that covered almost the entire length of the car, with a whole miniature town, including a ski-lift, a theatre showing a Christmas movie premiere, a streetcar and tiny vehicles and homes.

The third car was chock-full of Christmas toys on display including classic games, dolls, and other toys. The car, known as Santa’s Workshop was ablaze with Christmas colors and lights and at the end, all of Santa’s elves gave the kids small goody bags with candy and toys donated by the city of LaPlace and the KCS.

The KCS donates coats, hats and gloves to underprivileged families every year so that children in the selected communities have what they need to keep warm in the winter.

&#8220KCS also raises money for families and converts the money into $25 gift cards at Wal-Mart and distributes them to their partner, the Salvation Army,” said Willis Kilpatrick. &#8220We raised $114,000 this year, which is well above what we made last year. We just want to give back to the communities that we do business in.”

Kilpatrick is known as the head elf and he is in charge of taking care of the train and making sure things are running smoothly.

The Salvation Army will take the gift cards that KCS purchased with the money they raised and convert the cards into gifts for the children of the parish who need them most.

Nickie Monica, parish president said, &#8220 I am glad that the community has come together like this and I am very pleased that Kansas City Southern railroad chose to visit LaPlace so the kids can experience this wonderful event.”