By Jeff Fox

Santa Claus, is seems, has a lot of places to be and has to plan far in advance.

For the second year in a row, the Kansas City Southern’s popular Holiday Express will not be stopping in Blue Springs or Grain Valley.

It typically draws hundreds wherever it stops.

“It’s a well-attended event here in town. ... We can only hope for next year,” said Zach Pross, interim executive director of the Grain Valley Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the event in years with a stop there.

The Holiday Express is popular, and the railroad has said it’s trying to meet requests, over the years, to visit as many places as possible.

Only so many dates are available. The annual tour starts the day after Thanksgiving and makes around 20 appearances before traditionally settling in for a few days at Union Station in Kansas City.

That’s the plan this year. The train starts Nov. 29 in Port Arthur, Texas, and makes several stops in Texas and Louisiana and then works its way north to Oklahoma, Kansas and southwest Missouri. Then it goes to the St. Louis area and starts making its way west toward Kansas City, with stops Dec. 16 in Higginsville and Dec. 17 in Odessa.

It’s possible that people could catch a glimpse of the train traveling through Oak Grove, Grain Valley, Blue Springs and Independence on its way to Union Station, where it’s on display Dec. 18-22.