Sometimes people forget, when someone is in the military, the family of the soldier serves too, said Nicole Frohlich of Bismarck.
That’s what made a ride on BNSF Holiday Express particularly special.
BNSF Railway invited 350 members of North Dakota National Guard families to take a short trip on the festive train in Mandan on Saturday. Passengers were visited by Santa and Mrs. Claus and received a holiday ornament and snacks for the ride.
Frohlich, who has served in the Guard for 20 years, was delighted to see her 21-month-old daughter, Kaylee Froelich, dancing to the Christmas music playing as the train bumped along going west.
“It’s just so thoughtful of them to do this for military families,” said Erin Demoe, of Bismarck. “It’s nice to have something to do together with the kids.
Erin Demoe and her husband Yancey Demoe have served in the Guard for 10 and 19 years, respectively. The two of them were both deployed to Kosovo in 2010.
None of the Demoes had ridden on a train before and the couple surprised their children with the trip.
“The boys especially love trains,” Yancey Demoe said.
Cory Cavett’s kids had been counting down the days until the train ride for the past three weeks.
In addition to serving in the Guard, Cavett, of Lincoln, also works for the Bismarck Police Department. His schedule makes it difficult to spend time with family, which made Saturday’s trip all the more fun. Waiting for Santa to come through their car, his three children said they hope to get a BB gun, dangle earrings and a Chase police car for Christmas this year.
For this, its eleventh year, the BNSF Holiday Express will also be making stops in South Dakota, Nebraska, Montana, Wyoming and Kansas.
“It’s a way for us to pay tribute to those who give a lot,” said BNSF spokeswoman Amy McBeth.
As part of the event, the railway donated $10,000 to the National Guard Foundation, which provides aid to Guard families facing fiscal troubles as well as to families of fallen soldiers.
“It’s nice to also gather not in uniform and enjoy each other's’ company,” said North Dakota National Guard Col. Paul Harron.