Santa Claus Express brings holiday cheer to Fort Irwin families


BARSTOW, Calif. — For the 29th straight year, Santa Claus and his merry helpers rode the rails and distributed gifts to more than 1,400 deserving children on board the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Santa Claus Express train, as it traveled through southern California, with trips departing from San Bernardino, Fullerton and Barstow.

Fourteen Fort Irwin families boarded the Santa Claus Express on Dec. 16, at the Harvey House in Barstow. Children and their families enjoyed character appearances from Alvin and the Chipmunks, a clown, a magician, the Grinch, and of course, Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Children and families are selected for the free rides by a variety of organizations, including the United Way, Thrive Single Mothers, Scottish Rite, Ronald McDonald House and Giving Children Hope, and military families, to name a few. BNSF employees volunteer their time to host the children and families and help Santa Claus deliver presents and refreshments during each of the trips.

“Here at BNSF, we work to deliver millions of packages on time during the holiday season,” Donnie Stilwell, general manager of operations for the California Division said. “Operating the Santa Claus Express for these honored guests is a true privilege for our company and our employee volunteers.”

He went on to say “We all cherish seeing the kids’ excitement as Santa and Mrs. Claus come through the trains with gifts and treats. Many of our employees have participated in this wonderful holiday tradition for nearly 30 years.”