KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) — Citing supply chain and staffing issues, CSX announced Friday that this year’s Santa Train will continue to take place with a drive-thru toy distribution format rather than running a physical train.
This will mark the third year without Santa Claus riding the rails of Appalachia and tossing out toys along the way as in years past. Due to the pandemic, organizers decided not to run the train in 2020 or 2021 and instead held drive-thru toy distribution events along the Santa Train’s traditional route.
This year’s event will have the same format.
“Several months of planning goes into bringing the Santa Train to life each year, meaning we are faced with making decisions as early as possible,” said Bryan Tucker, vice president of Corporate Communications at CSX. “Due to current supply chain and ongoing staffing challenges across our network, all of CSX’s resources and personnel are needed to help serve our customers and keep the nation’s economy moving. Because of this, we came to the difficult decision that it is not feasible for us to run the train in 2022.”
CSX says it will work with local partners to distribute 5,000 gift backpacks full of toys and winter accessories at locations along the Santa Train’s traditional route.
More information, including gift pickup locations, is expected to be announced soon.
The annual tradition is now in its 80th year. Prior to 2020, the Santa Train traditionally ran along a 110-mile route from Pikeville, Kentucky to Kingsport on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.