Alexandra Pope, staff writer
December 6, 2011 — The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train is rolling across North America, bringing light, music, fun and support for local food banks to dozens of communities.
This is the 13th tour for the unique rolling fundraiser.
In that time, greeting the Holiday Train in their town has become a favorite tradition for tens of thousands of Canadian and U.S. families.
The festive freighter has also been a major contributor to the fight against hunger, raising $5.6 million and collecting over 2.5 million pounds of food for local food banks since 1999.
“For many food banks along the way, this is their major fundraiser for the next 12 months, so each stop is important,” says Ed Greenberg, a spokesman for CP.
For those unfamiliar with it, the Holiday Train is a CP freight train decked out with thousands of feet of colourful lights. Musicians entertain the crowd from a boxcar that converts into a stage.
The Canadian train began its journey November 27th in Beaconsfield, Que.; its last stop will be in Port Moody, B.C. on December 17th. Another train travels through the U.S. Together, the two trains pass through about 140 different communities.
Along for the ride on the Canadian train this year are Canada's youngest rock band, the Brothers Dubé, and legendary folk singer Valdy.
The train encounters its fair share of wintery weather along the route, but it takes extreme conditions to stop the train in its tracks.
“Unless there is concern for people’s safety, the show will go ahead,” Greenberg says.
Last year, a blizzard forced the cancellation of shows in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.
“The situation was so extreme, the roof at the Metrodome Football Stadium collapsed and interstates, highways and streets were shut down for days,” Greenberg recalls.
However, he adds it's rare that the train runs into weather that extreme.
The Weather Network's Natalie Thomas joins the Holiday Train as it makes its way from Saskatoon to Calgary starting Monday, December 5th.
Be sure to watch The Weather Network for more of Natalie's Holiday Train adventures, and share your Holiday Train stories and memories in the comments!