All aboard the Holiday Express

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, November 27, 2019

LAPLACE — All aboard the Kansas City Southern’s Holiday Express! The uniquely designed holiday attraction is making a stop in St. John the Baptist Parish at 4 p.m. Friday at Hemlock Street and Percy Hebert Road in LaPlace for the first time since 2011.

Families are invited to venture inside the train to see the spectacular displays, lights and music free of charge. No tickets are required for children to visit with Santa and receive a bag of seasonal goodies.

Volunteers dedicated more than 8,000 hours to create the Holiday Express in 2001. Retired rail cars were dressed in lights and given new life as they were transformed into a smiling tank car named “Rudy;” an elves’ workshop; a gingerbread boxcar; a reindeer stable; and a flatcar carrying Santa’s sleigh, reindeer and a Christmas village. The sixth retired car was transformed into a little red caboose that will house Santa Claus at the LaPlace stop.

There will not be a professional photographer onsite to take photos with Santa. However, each guest is welcome to take a photo using personal cameras.

A picture with Santa last time the Holiday Express train came to LaPlace in 2011.

Three of the six cars can be toured during the Holiday Express stop. Parish officials have referred to the train as a “spectacle both inside and out.” While the train is not available for rides, it brings plenty of Christmas joy through tours.

Passage through the train is offered on a first come, first served basis. The end time for the event is dependent on crowd size and weather, and coordinators will make every effort to keep the train open as long as visitors are in line.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to board the train in a wheelchair at this time. Families who need special accommodations can request Santa visits their child outside of the train.

KCS’ Holiday Express also has a charitable component. According to a Kansas City Southern news release, the Holiday Express has raised more than $2.1 million for the Salvation Army over the past 18 years.

At each scheduled stop, operators of the train help provide warm clothing and other necessities for children in the community. Tax-deductible donations are used to purchase gift cards that will be divided between Salvation Army locations along the scheduled route.

“KCS is thrilled to bring joy to communities throughout our network with the Holiday Express project,” said KCS president and chief executive officer Patrick J. Ottensmeyer.  “This special tradition brings people together, strengthens community ties and supports our corporate values.”

The 2019 fundraising campaign recently closed, and any additional donations received this holiday season will support the 2020 holiday campaign. To donate, visit

Headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., KCS is a transportation holding company that has railroad investments in the U.S., Mexico and Panama.  Its primary U.S. holding is The Kansas City Southern Railway Company, serving the central and south central U.S.