Ed Moore was the first recipient of the honor back in 2012, when it was simply called the Santa Train Award. After his death the next year, the award’s name was changed in his memory.
And when an obviously surprised Burdine made his way front and center Friday night to receive the award, he didn’t waste words.
“The best part of this is it has Ed Moore’s name on it,” Burdine said, his voice heavy with emotion. After his name was called, the retired U.S. Marine Corps colonel had walked up wiping away tears.
Moore, a longtime employee of Food City, was a tireless volunteer in many community organizations but was perhaps most known for 20 years of leading the charge to collect donations for and to promote the Santa Train.
“He was one of a kind,” said Steve Smith, president and CEO of K-VA-T Food Stores, when Moore died in 2013. “We’re all better people for knowing Ed Moore. We are all lucky and blessed that we had Ed in our lives. Ed is one of those people that if you’re really lucky, they come along once or maybe twice. We are blessed to have had Ed in our company for 50-plus years. I never met anybody that didn’t like Ed Moore. He was just a special person, what he gave and what he meant to Kingsport. Whether it was the Santa Train or other events.”
Jamie Horton was Moore’s right hand for the Santa Train and has followed in his footsteps, from coordinating donations to promoting the train. Horton was named the Ed Moore Service Award Recipient last year.
“That meant a lot to me on the (Santa Train’s) 75th anniversary,” Horton said Friday as she and other train sponsors explained the significance of the award before announcing Burdine as this year’s recipient.
As they began to describe the person who was this year’s honoree, Burdine could be seen shaking his head with a look of disbelief on his face as it became clear he was it.
Burdine has held numerous leadership positions in the community and has served on the Santa Train since at least 1999.
Horton said Burdine has put a lot of “work, sweat and tears” into the train over the years and continues to be a crucial part of what goes on in the West Virginia, the CSX railcar that serves as Santa’s sleigh each year.