Frankie Ballard AF 078For the past two years, I have had the pleasure of being onboard the CSX Santa Train. In 2009, the celebrity guest taking the ride with us was Wynonna. In 2010, I had the privilege of riding with Wynona and Naomi Judd.  This year, Shawna and Keifer Thompson, country music duo Thompson Square, will join CSX, Food City, the Kingsport Area Chamber of Commerce and Kids Wish Network representatives on board the train for its 69th annual run bringing gifts to children and communities from Shelby, Ky., to Kingsport, Tenn., on Nov. 19. And, I’ll be riding, too.

I met Thompson Square briefly in Nashville back in March, 2011, at a benefit for City of Hope held at the Hard Rock Café.  I got to see them, and talk to  them a little last month when they were performing at our Appalachian Fair in Gray, Tenn. You can read that article here. I’m looking forward to the train trip, and know these two are going to be awesome ‘elves’ for Santa.

“We are really honored to be a part of this year’s Santa Train,” Shawna Thompson said. “This is an amazing opportunity to help spread the joys of Christmas to other people.”

Santa Train 2010 097More than 15 tons of new toys are put into colored bags, sorted by age group for boys and girls. The bags are then handed out at the 14 stops along the 110 mile route. The Santa Train stops throughout Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Thompson Square, Santa Claus and volunteers from CSX, Food City, the Kingsport Area Chamber of Commerce and Kids Wish Network will deliver the toys to thousands of residents who live along the route.

“It is exciting to see a talented couple like Thompson Square dedicate their time to the Santa Train,” said Tori Kaplan, AVP corporate social responsibility for CSX. “The Santa Train has been an important part of the holidays in Appalachia for the past 68 years, and we expect to continue that tradition this year.”

Santa TrainIn past years, U.S. senators and representatives and several governors have participated in the Santa Train, as well as celebrity guests such as The Judds, Alison Krauss, Patty Loveless, Kathy Mattea and Travis Tritt. 

“The Santa Train ends its trip in Kingsport every year, and the entire city really looks forward to this event,” said Kingsport Area Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Miles Burdine. “It’s great to see people come together to support the mission of the Santa Train.”

Santa Train 058“We think it is wonderful that we are able to give back to the communities we serve,” Ed Moore, Food City’s corporate trainer, said. “Having Thompson Square join us on the train this year will certainly add a fun element to the ride.”

“This is our third year working with CSX to sponsor the Santa Train, and we are so very proud and honored to be a part of this wonderful tradition,” said Barbara Askin, Kids Wish Network’s director of distribution. “This is what Kids Wish Network is all about – reaching out to deserving children nationwide to bring hope to their hearts and smiles to their faces. It is the most rewarding feeling in the world to see a smile light up the face of a child in need as they are handed a brand new toy.”

Thompson SquareTo Keifer and Shawna, you are going to go on what will become the most rewarding and memorable train trip of your entire life. I look forward to riding with you, and sharing in your experience.

That’s all for this morning. Have a great Thursday, everyone! Drop me a line when you get a minute!
CountryNote

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For the past two years, I have had the pleasure of being onboard the CSX Santa Train. In 2009, the celebrity guest taking the ride with us was Wynonna. In 2010, I had the privilege of riding with Wynona and Naomi Judd.  This year, Shawna and Keifer Thompson, country...