PITTSBURG, Kan. — A whole lot of kids were treated to a train ride on the “Santa Express,” today, courtesy of “Watco.”

More than 300 first graders from Westside, George Nettels, Lakeside and Meadowlark elementaries were on board.

This is something “Watco” does every year, except for the last two, because of the pandemic.

“We give them a ride for about an hour, an hour and a half, come back. Santa is aboard the train. He talks to each and every student. He’s got his elves helpin’. They come along and give cookies and drinks, or mostly water now, but they really have a fun time. You see all the smiling faces and they’re really wound up. I feel sorry for the teachers when they get ’em back to the classrooms,” said Larry Spahn, Heart of the Heartlands.

Volunteers with the local train preservation club, “Heart of the Heartlands” helped organize today’s ride.