Getting ready for the November run of The Santa Train is a year-long job for the hundreds (maybe even thousands) of people who donate their time, money, and organizational talents to this wonderful project. One of the jobs that needs to be done, is to find that special guest who will not only ride along on the 110-mile trip, but will greet children, help pass out gifts, and, if we’re super lucky, give us a little performance at the end of the long trip. This year, that celebrity guest will be Meghan Linsey.
While most people think of Meghan as the runner up on the last season of “The Voice,” I still think of her as an outstanding country artist, and half of the duo Steel Magnolia. When they first started as a duo, we got see them on stage in Greeneville, Tenn. The show was great [article here]. With the help of The Voice, we have all been watching Meghan grow as an artist, and are now watching and waiting as she develops her solo career.
Country’s Chatter has been telling everyone about the CSX Santa Train for a very long time. Our readers come from all over the world, and we always enjoy their comments and e-mails after they read this story. The Santa Train is something many have never heard of before. This is a wonderful charity event, that provides Christmas gifts and holiday cheer to children throughout the coal regions of Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee. This passenger train, loaded with more than 15 tons of toys, leaves the Shelby, Ky., train yard a little before 6 a.m. on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.
Anyone who has not experienced this would be amazed at how much goes into the planning and preparation. Gifts are bagged (sometimes in backpacks) in color-coded packaging. That way, when all the volunteers leave the train with their armloads of bags to distribute gifts, they know – red bags, boy (ages X to X); green bags, girl (ages X to X); blue bags, boy (ages X to X); purple bags, girl (ages X to X), etc. You get the idea. In addition to the bags of gifts, Santa is always on board at the back of the train tossing out smaller gifts, like stuffed animals, and food (packaged crackers, cupcakes, candies, etc.)
The train makes 14 scheduled stops during the 110-mile trip, which ends in Kingsport, Tenn., just in time for Santa to get off of the train, and onto a fire engine to ride in the Christmas parade that afternoon. The sponsors, CSX, Food City, The Kingsport Chamber of Commerce, and others (who we will certainly mention and thank in upcoming articles), all do a wonderful job for these kids. Their hard work has not gone unnoticed by anyone.
The best way to finish out this article will probably be with pictures. Here are some pictures from several years worth of Santa Train trips, with artists such as Amy Grant, Thompson Square, Wynonna and Naomi Judd, Kree Harrison and more. Hard to believe we’re this close to Christmas already! We’re all excited about the 73rd annual running of our CXS Santa Train! We’ll certainly keep all of you posted, too. (The photo of Amy Grant, above, was taken for by Beverly C. Hood).
Going to close this out with more photos from past years on The Santa Train.
Being onboard this train is one of the most rewarding experiences we have ever had, here at Country’s Chatter. There is nothing like the face of a child when you hand them that special stuffed animal, or bag full of gifts. If you enjoyed this article, I hope you will get behind The Santa Train. Visit their Facebook page, and follow them on Twitter @TeamSantaTrain. If you are not already following Country’s Chatter on Twitter, we’d love to have you. You will find us @countryschatter.