The 17th annual Kansas City Southern (KCS) Holiday Express rolled into Ashdown, Ark., on Wednesday, Dec. 6, right on schedule near U.S. Highway 71. An enthusiastic crowd of children and families was already lined up when I arrived to visit Santa Claus who was on board the holiday train.

Leading the Holiday Express was its smiling tank car "Rudy" a flat car that carries Santa's sleigh, reindeer, and miniature village.  The lighted train also featured a gingerbread box car, an elves' workshop, reindeer stable, and a little red caboose. Parents and their children were able  to visit with Santa Claus and his jolly elves, and tour three cars out of the six car train.

Seeing the kids' eyes light up and the hear the cheers when the train pulled into its destination made the short drive to Ashdown well worth it. One kid who was standing nearby me was excited when he saw Santa step out of the train. For a moment, it made me think of my childhood remembering the first time I saw Santa.

During each stop the KCS Charitable Fund made up of employees, vendors and friends purchase gift cards that are given to the Salvation Army. A representive from the Salvation Army was there to accept the gift cards, which will help provide warm clothing and other items for children in need within our community.

Here are a few pics from the event.

Mario Garcia, Townsquare Media
Mario Garcia, Townsquare Media
Mario Garcia, Townsquare Media
Mario Garcia, Townsquare Media
Mario Garcia, Townsquare Media
Mario Garcia, Townsquare Media
Mario Garcia, Townsquare Media
Mario Garcia, Townsquare Media
Mario Garcia, Townsquare Media

In an interview with Grant Elliot a representive with the Kansas City Southern Holiday Express he told me they have stopped in 22 communities and 26 states with their last stop in Kansas City on Dec. 19.