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Volume 26, Number 6 — June 2019

Proceeds from 'Santa Train' Book Help Fund Scholarships

"The Santa Train Tradition" by Leigh Anne W. Hoover tells the story of 7-year-old Ben Massey and his family's annual tradition of walking to meet the Santa Train on the chilly Saturday morning before Thanksgiving.

Children's Book Inspired by Holiday Tradition

November 08, 2009

KINGSPORT, Tenn. The Kingsport Area Chamber of Commerce and Food City announce the return of The Santa Train Tradition, a special children's book inspired by one of the region's most anticipated holiday events.

The children's book was written by Leigh Anne W. Hoover, a longtime Kingsport resident, and illustrated by Carol Bates Murray of Marion, Va.

The book made its debut last Christmas season in Food City stores along the 110-mile route of the Santa Train itself.

Back by popular demand, the book has been reprinted with a green cover. The original red cover is now a limited edition. Otherwise, the story and photos are exactly the same.

The Santa Train Tradition tells the story of seven-year-old Ben Massey and his family's annual tradition of walking to meet the Santa Train on the chilly Saturday morning before Thanksgiving.

"Capturing the essence of this renowned Appalachian Christmas tradition in a children's book has been my privilege and my pleasure," said Hoover. "I hope that The Santa Train Tradition will become a treasured holiday keepsake for many families."

Cost will remain at $11.99. Books are available for sale until Jan. 2, 2010, at Food City locations along the Santa Train route and within the Tri-Cites. Books can also be purchased at the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce.

"This is the first children's book about the Santa Train and the rich history behind it," said Food City Store Manager and Santa Train Co-chair Ed Moore.

Last year, Food City presented a proceeds check for $7,352.41 to representatives of the Kingsport Chamber Foundation to benefit the Santa Train Scholarship.

"We are so proud to have the opportunity to again aid in the support of such a great tradition that benefits so many of our area children," said Steven C. Smith, Food City president and CEO. "We would love to give back even more this year!"

Again this year, a percentage of the book's proceeds will benefit the Santa Train Scholarship and the Literacy Council of Kingsport. Each year a high school senior along the 110-mile route of the Santa Train is awarded a $5,000 college scholarship.

"Leigh Anne Hoover not only has gifted us with this one of a kind children's book, but she teamed up with our friends at Food City to give us a gift that will allow students to attend college. That is an amazing gift," said Miles Burdine, Kingsport Chamber president and CEO.

Months before the Santa Train leaves the station, volunteers are busy collecting, separating and packing donated toys and gifts, which are shipped from all-across the country in preparation for the much anticipated event.

Originating in 1943, the Santa Train has been winding its way though the mountains of Appalachia for more then 66 years. The tradition started as a way to show appreciation to residents of Southwest Virginia and Eastern Kentucky for shopping in Kingsport.

The Santa Train is an annual project sponsored by CSX Transportation, Food City and the Kingsport Tennessee Area Chamber of Commerce. It delivers more than 15 tons of donated gifts, toys, clothing, and candies along the train's route from Shelby, Ky., to Kingsport.

For more information on The Santa Train Tradition, visit

Headquartered in Abingdon, Food City operates 105 retail food outlets throughout the tri-state region of Southeast Kentucky, Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee.

For continuous updates about the Santa Train, visit the Kingsport Chamber on Facebook, Twitter and Find more on the Facebook fan page, The Santa Train and on Twitter @TheSantaTrain. Call call (423) 392-8800.