Holiday Express returns to Heavener Friday

Visitors take photos in front of "Rudy" during the train's visit to Heavener in 2015.
Amanda Corbin
News Reporter

The Kansas City Southern Holiday Express train will makes one of its only two stops in Oklahoma at Heavener this year. It stopped in Poteau last year.

New this year, the Heavener Chamber of Commerce will host "Christmas at the Caboose" in conjunction with the event. The train will stop at the KCS yard in Heavener at 403 W. First St. at 4 p.m. this Friday, Dec. 8.

Its only other Oklahoma stop will be at the depot in Stilwell at 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9. The train will make 22 stops ending Dec. 19 as it travels from Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas. The events are free and open to the public.

Also starting at 4 p.m., there will be free hot cocoa from the Salvation Army, various vendors and Christmas carolers. The chamber's parking lot will have concessions and other Christmas vendors will be set up. Additionally, the Friends of the Library will set up in the caboose at the chamber to read "The Polar Express." All parking for the event will be in downtown Heavener.

The KCS donates to The Salvation Army located closest to each stop, and as raised more than $1 million over the past 16 years, KCS said. The cards are used to purchase clothing and other necessities for needy children in the community.

The Holiday Express was built on the tradition of the Santa Train. The former train ran on a segment of the network bought by KCS in 1997. In 2001, a group of KCS volunteered to transform a retired freight train, the Holiday Express, to help bring items like coats, hats and gloves to kids in communities in KCS territory.

The train is led by the KCS Southern Belle business train, includes smiling tank car "Rudy," a flatcar carrying Santa's sleigh, reindeer and a miniature village, a ginger bread boxcar, remolded elves' workshop, reindeer stable and red caboose. The cars each are decorated in Christmas lights.

A full list of Holiday Express stops is available on the KCS website.