Over the weekend, country and bluegrass legend Ricky Skaggs experienced something of a blast from his past.

The Grand Ole Opry stalwart served as the celebrity guest for the 75th anniversary run of the Santa Train, an annual event that provides Christmas cheer for many in the coal mining areas of Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee. As part of his duties, the singer threw out plush toys to the thousands of people that lined the route of the Santa Train, while volunteers on the ground handed out toys, coats, candy, and wrapping paper. Skaggs tells Billboard the faces surely looked a bit familiar to him.

“I saw eastern Kentucky,” says the singer, who grew up in nearby Cordell. “I will tell you what else I saw. When I went to Belfast and Dublin, I saw people that looked like my kin. The first time I went over there with Emmylou [Harris] back in 1978, I just remember seeing the Irish people, and by the looks on their faces, I could have been in Paintsville. I could have been in Pikeville or St. Paul. The Scotch-Irish DNA is so strong here, musically and here in the mountains. I saw history. I saw my upbringing. I saw years of music.”

Source : Billboard