Yesterday afternoon I finished writing an article about The Santa Train for this weeks issue of The Erwin Record. Now, I need to get a little more written for all of you. I don’t have the interview ready to go up yet. But as soon as I have someone at the office edit it, and burn it to a DVD for me, I’ll bring it on home and get it up for you guys.
We also had a crew from GAC onboard this year’s train. They were filming a show called “GAC Aboard the Santa Train.” It is scheduled to be shown on Dec. 12 at 9 p.m. (ET), 8 p.m. (Central). I spent a lot of time on the train with Suzanne Alexander, GAC host, and with the crew Dave, Chris and Dottie. I’m looking forward to seeing the show on Dec. 12. So here I go again – it’s time to mark my calendar with Christmas specials for 2009! (The photo at top left is Suzanne from GAC, with Thomas Sargeant. Thomas won a ride on this year’s Santa Train.)
You all know that Wynonna was this year’s celebrity guest on The Santa Train. The country music entertainer is a native of Ashland, Ky, and said this experience brought her back to her childhood. “It brought me back to when we lived here, I relived my childhood,” Wynonna said. “The first half of the trip I cried a lot. I saw my mom with two girls. I saw the single parents, it brought me back to when I lived here. Then it turned into that surreal ‘I’ve made it’ I’ve lived the American dream. Now I wanted to give back.”
Her children, Gracie and Elijah came along with Mom. She said at first they weren’t sure what Mom was getting them into, but after the first stop the kids stayed busy throwing out the toys. “Gracie squealed,” Wynonna said, “and it wasn’t long before Elijah was telling me how to do it.”
Naomi Judd had been the guest on the train back in 2005. She had talked to Wy about it beforehand. And kind of prepared her for what she would see, and the people she would meet along the train’s route. One of the reporters asked her if this was what she expected, she said it was exactly what she expected. I could tell she enjoyed being a part of this day. She was great with the kids, and she really worked hard throwing those gifts off the back of the train.
The photo at the right was taken after the train ended it’s trip in Kingsport. Wynonna was presented with a beautiful painting of The Santa Train. Sorry I couldn’t get a better picture of it with the glare, but it was really pretty – and I think you can tell by looking at Wynonna, that she thought so, too.
At the stop in Fremont, Va., someone came over to the train with a handmade reindeer. It wasn’t much more than a small log with tiny branches for antlers, and little limbs for legs. It was gift for Wynonna, and came with a note to thank her for helping with the Santa Train this year. “This is the kind of thing I will keep,” Wynonna said. and I know she meant it. She cares about the people as much as they care about her.
Wynonna joked about grandparents knowing who she was, children not knowing, and said at one stop a 13 year old girl knew her. And any day when a 13 year old knows who she is “that’s a good day”. “This isn’t about me, I have plenty of about me, This is about all the children who are smiling because of what all these people are doing.”
More than 15 tons of toys were given out this year, at 14 stops along the Shelby, Ky., to Kingsport, Tenn. route. But Wynonna wants to find a way to do even more. She said she is hoping to find ways to get more toys for next year’s train. Thousands of youngsters are waiting by the tracks more toys are needed. “The children are waiting for the toys,” she said. “Moon Pies are good, but the kids wanted the toys. I think the parents were interested in the food, but we definitely need more toys.”
Wynonna is hoping to do a Christmas tour in 2010 with her mom, and hinted at coming back to ride the Santa Train next year with her mom and her sister Ashley. Naomi Judd rode on the train in 2005, and Wynonna said her Mom prepared her for the trip very well. She said the trip was everything she expected. And she really is looking forward to doing it again.
That’s all for now. I’ll get more news up later. And of course the video from the Santa Train interview.
Hope you all had a great weekend and are ready to start the new work week! I’m not. I’m still tired, but I still feel wonderful about what I got to do to help so many children have such a great Christmas.