For decades, business throughout southwest Virginia and northeast Tennessee have supported the running of the Santa Train, in which Santa Claus rides from eastern Kentucky through southwest Virginia to Kingsport, Tennessee, distributing toys to coalfield children at whistlestops along the way.
This year, CSX, Food City, Appalachian Power, the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce and Soles4Souls are being forced by the COVID crisis to alter their plans.
The coalition Friday announced location and safety details for this year’s Santa Train.
In lieu of the traditional Santa Train event, holiday gifts will be distributed at four Food City locations along the usual Santa Train route on Saturday, Nov. 21, from 8–10 a.m. at each of the four locations.
The locations for gift distribution are:
• Shelbiana Food City #475
2138 S Mayo Trail, Pikeville, KY 41501
• Clintwood Food City #892
410 Chase St., Clintwood, VA 24228
• St. Paul Food City #897
16410 Wise St., St. Paul, VA 24283
• Weber City Food City #820
3004 US-23, Weber City, VA 24290
For this year’s festivities, Team Santa Train will deliver Santa’s gifts to the Food City locations listed above. Local community members will be able to pick up children’s gifts from cars to minimize physical contact. Santa’s elves at each site will wear masks while handing out gifts, and attendees are encouraged but not required to wear a mask while in their vehicle at the pickup locations. Other aspects of the event, including contests and special guest appearances, will be conducted online via social media.