The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train will soon be pulling into Edmonton.
The train, which is decorated with Christmas lights, raises money, donations and awareness for food banks across the country. The initiative started in 1999.
The locomotive, which started its cross-country trek in November, will arrive in town and lower its stage door. Bands that are on the train will perform a 30-minute concert, and then there are presentations with local food banks before the train pulls out to its next stop. Stops in Canada are scheduled through to Dec. 17.
“CP has been around for a very long time,” Holiday Train spokesperson Katie Hill said.
“We have employees who work in communities right across the country. We know there is a need in those communities. CP is there as a good corporate citizen. We want to make sure we’re supporting the communities through which we operate.”
Admission is free but monetary donations or donations to the food bank are encouraged. All donations stay within the community for distribution.
Tamisan Bencz-Knight, spokesperson for the Edmonton Food Bank, said the need in the Capital Region is great right now.
“We have gone from an average of about 15,000 people a month to 20,000 people a month. Every number as we increase represents a friend, child, a family member, somebody’s co-worker,” she said.
“It isn’t the easier thing to ask for help but we’re here to help people at Christmas and every day.”
Bencz-Knight said donations to the food bank are down compared to the same time last year, adding the organization is only at approximately 40 per cent of its monetary goal.
She said the Holiday Train is a helpful event.
“They come out, they create a wonderful activity and event and it’s free for anyone. But they do ask for a donation for the food bank. It’s not only supporting the Edmonton Food Bank, it’s supporting hundreds of food banks along the way.”
There are roughly 150 stops in both Canada and the United States. The train previously stopped in Ponoka, Leduc and Wetaskiwin. After Edmonton, the train will head to southern Alberta.
“As we travel through these 150 shows over the course of the program, there’s an awful lot of generosity. You really see the spirit of the holidays come out in these communities,” Hill said.
In Edmonton, the train will be pulling into the CP station in Old Strathcona Thursday at 7:45 p.m. with the concert beginning at 8:15 p.m. Dallas Smith and Odds will be performing.
Donations of non-perishable items, such as canned beans, canned meat or fish, pasta, canned soup and pasta, are being accepted.
Watch below: Despite it being a fiercely cold December night, many Edmontonians gathered in Old Strathcona Thursday as the CP Holiday Train rolled into Alberta’s capital. Nancy Carlson has more.
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