Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Thanksgiving Picnic & Christmas Train Rides

Welcome to the Events Blog where you will read about many of the exciting annual events happening in Texas! Vattman, Texas’ Our Lady of Consolation Catholic Church Thanksgiving Picnic is a favorite in the Kingsville area. If you plan to attend and are from out of the area, plan to eat some of the best seafood on the Texas Coast at the Kings Inn in Loyola Beach! With the Christmas Holidays just weeks away, we will be listing some fabulous holliday events that for some will require making advanced travel arrangements. The listed Christmas trains and train rides will appeal to children of all ages! Future blog updates will include Christmas Tree Farms, Special Ice Skating Rinks, Holiday Lights Trails, and more exciting events.

The former town of Vattman is located at the intersection of FM 626 and FM 772, east of Riviera. On Thanksgiving Day the women of Our Lady of Consolation Catholic Church host the annual Vattmann Community Thanksgiving Dinner from 11am to 2pm. Over 2,000 people from the surrounding area attend this event which started in 1914. The dinner menu includes home cooked turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, garden salads, cranberry sauce, breads, dessert, and beverages. Other activities include a turkey shoot, arts and crafts, a country store, a raffle and a silent auction, a moonwalk, a fish pond, a country/western dance, bingo, and a hayride. From south of Kingsville, go five miles east on FM 628 towards Loyola Beach and the Kings Inn. The church and hall are located on your left at 204 Palm Avenue, Riviera. The church is visible from FM 626. (361) 297-5255. Nearby towns include Kingsville, Riviera, and Riviera Beach. Email

This is an absolutely fabulous train. The Holiday Express was created in 2001 after volunteers dedicated over 8,000 hours to the rigorous transformation of the retired freight train. The train was built on the tradition of the former Gateway Western (GWWR) Santa Train, which made stops in small towns from East St. Louis, Ill. to Blue Springs, Mo. (GWWR was purchased by KCS in 1997.) In 2000, KCS employees noticed that the Santa Train was the only Christmas some children had, and that some children did not have essential items such as coats, hats and gloves. The employees were so touched that they committed to elevating the project to the experience that communities throughout KCSR's service area enjoy today." The Holiday Express train distributes gift cards to the Salvation Army to provide warm clothing and other necessities for children in need at stops along the Holiday Express route. Donations are accepted. The six-car train with Santa Claus and his elves makes stops in 25 or more communities in seven U.S. states.  Access to the train is free and open to the public. Led by KCS’ Southern Belle business train, the Holiday Express train includes a smiling tank car “Rudy”; a flat car carrying Santa’s sleigh, reindeer and a miniature village; a gingerbread box car; the elves’ workshop; the reindeer’s stable; and a little red caboose. New in 2010 was the addition of a G-gauge Holiday Express model train that will run around the flat car during Holiday Express stops. The route varies slightly each year. The 2015 Holiday Express Schedule includes the Texas Cities of Beaumont (28 November at KCS Yard, 4095 South Martin Luther King Parkway), Beasley near Kendleton (29 November at KCS Intermodal Shipper Facility), El Campo (Evans Park on 30 November at 112 East Monseratte Street), Victoria (on 1 December at U.S. Business 59 at Burroughsville Road), Ganado (2 December at U.S. Business 59 at FM 172), and the Wharton depot at 100 North Sunset Street. It will also stop at Shreveport, Louisiana on 4 December at the KCS yard, 4500 North Lake Shore Drive, Gate 5, 71107. Shreveport is located 45 miles southeast of Jefferson, Texas, 42 miles east of Marshall, Texas, approximately 36 miles southeast of Uncertain and Karnack, Texas, and 22 miles slightly northeast of Waskom, Texas. (816) 983-1372. (816) 983-1668.

Activities on this one hour train ride include reading "The Polar Express" story, music from the Polar Express movie, a visit from Santa, caroling, and a stop at the North Pole. Cookies and hot chocolate are served by dancing chefs (yes, chefs). Children are encouraged to wear warm pajamas. Group reservations are available. (888) 987-2461. Trains depart from the Palestine Depot on Park Road 70. Rides are scheduled on weekends from Mid-November until after Christmas. (903) 683-2561. (877) 726-7245.

The Grapevine Depot is decorated with thousands of lights, and animated characters. The train ride is based on the bestselling children’s book and movie, "The Polar Express." Children are encouraged to wear their warmest pajamas for this 30 minute ride. Entertainment includes hot chocolate, a commemorative gift for all children, a journey through a Christmas tree maze, story time, a visit from Santa, and photos with Santa. The Grapevine Depot offers live entertainment, food, drinks, children’s activities, and shopping opportunities. The tickets go on sale the third week in September, and usually sell out. Rides are offered the last week of November, and the first 3 weeks of December. (817) 410-3123. The depot is located in Grapevine at 705 S. Main Street, just north of Dallas Street.

The train offers round trips to the North Pole during the Christmas holidays. Activities include a Christmas story, a visit from Santa, caroling, hot cocoa, and a treat and special gift for each child. Children are encouraged to wear warm pajamas. Call or click on the above link for dates and times. Tickets sell out very early. (877) 726-7245. 103 North Steck Avenue, Wolfforth, TX 79382. Wolfforth, Texas is located at the intersection of U.S. 62/82 and CR 1400, 25 miles west of Slaton, and 11 miles southwest of Lubbock, Texas. Wolfforth Texas Map  Wolfforth Area Map