Festive holiday train featuring Santa, elves makes local stop

Santa will be passing through the area a bit early – and bringing something of a show for all ages along with him.

The Canadian Pacific Kansas City Holiday Express train featuring the smiling tank car “Rudy” is scheduled to visit nearby LaPlace between Hemlock and Percy Hebert Rd. on Wednesday, Nov. 29, from 4 to 8 p.m. The festive holiday train with intricate displays inside and out will arrive in St. John Parish with Santa and his elves to visit local children and families.

Each year, the beautifully illuminated train travels across the country, spreading holiday cheer and raising donations to help people struggling with food insecurity. The 2023 Holiday Express will visit 20 communities in Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi.

Along the tour, the Holiday Express collects money and food while raising awareness for the important work local food banks do in their communities.

“It’s all free. It’s an opportunity to come out, enjoy the holidays and for kids to come out and meet Santa and the helpers,” said Terry Cunha of CPKC. “It’s also a chance to give back to the community. Over the 22 years the Holiday Express has been running, we’ve been able to raise over 3.1 million for the Salvation Army. It’s a way to give back to those in need, support your friends and neighbors who might be need a bit of additional helping hand.”

The public is invited to each stop with no admission fee charged, though donations are accepted.

Along its public stops, the CPKC allows visitors to meet Santa, board and explore the festively adorned train cars. 

“The children can get on, check out how the train operates, take a look around and maybe one day become a future railroader,” said Cunha. “Many children play with trains among their toys and get to see it live and in person.”

The bright lights that adorn the train especially create a visual at night.

Other Louisiana stops will be in Shreveport, Monroe, Coushatta, Leesville, DeRidder, Dequincy and Pineville.

The train traces its roots back to the “Santa Train” which ran for years through small rural communities often bringing children along the route the only gifts they would get for the holiday. In 1997 the idea was revived and reborn as the Holiday Express.


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