Just last Saturday, November 18, Ricky Skaggs climbed aboard the CSX Santa Train and helped distribute gifts, toys, and winter clothing to families along the route through the rural areas of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia. Together with Santa Claus himself and event partners like Appalachian Power, Soles4Souls, Kingsport Chamber of Commerce, and Food City, the train took a 110-mile run around the said areas.
The distribution of goods was also done in celebration of the CSX Santa Train’s 75th anniversary.
Skaggs described the train as a blessing and was even joined by his wife, Sharon White during the trip.
“It’s been greater than I even anticipated. Seeing all the children, it was really beautiful. I’m from Eastern Kentucky, so I know what life is like here and the lack of jobs and some of the conditions. It was really special to get to do this. I was very, very honored to do this.”
Skaggs is a native of Appalachia and hopes that this year’s Santa Train ride won’t be his last.
Ricky Skaggs also admits that he had already been asked to join the trip about 2-3 times in the past, but his fully booked schedule prevented him from saying yes to the previous offers. Finally, he got the chance he had always wanted.
“I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
Spending the entire morning standing at the left rear corner of the train car, Skaggs happily tossed stuffed toys towards the children who were eagerly waiting with outstretched hands at the stops. Meanwhile, his wife suddenly felt an outburst of emotion and began to cry. “I was laughing a lot at the beginning, but the little kids’ faces—you could see them in the light—all with their hands up. I came back in after I tossed some toys and I heard something, and they were shouting, ‘Bye Santa, bye, Santa.’ It just got me.”
During the briefing, White shares that they were told the children in the said areas have formed this image of Santa that’s a little different from how the majority of the world pictures him. They think that he comes by train, and not by riding on a sleigh and then climbing down chimneys. That made the trip even more extraordinary for them.
Aside from the train trip and the distribution of goodies, CSX has also launched an online photo contest where participants were tasked to share their favorite Santa Train photo on social media with the #SantaTrainis75. The photo can be a current one or a throwback picture. They must also tag the Facebook (www.facebook.com/santatrain) and Instagram (@teamsantatrain) pages of the CSX train. The judges for the contest will be comprised of members of the Santa Train team. The winner will receive a special 75th Santa Train gift, along with a signed item from Ricky Skaggs and a CSX train set.
CSX Santa Train, CSX Santa Train’s 75th anniversary, Ricky Skaggs
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