Food banks in southern Alberta communities including Blackie, Vulcan and Fort Macleod get a needed boost next week when the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train pulls into town.
The Holiday Train consists of 14 brightly decorated cars, including a modified boxcar that has been turned into a travelling stage for performers.
The Holiday Train stops at 1:15 p.m. at Blackie, 3 p.m. at Vulcan and 7 p.m. at Lethbridge on Monday, Dec. 9.
Then on Tuesday, Dec. 10 the Holiday Train stops at Fort Macleod at 9:30 a.m., Pincher Creek at 11:15 a.m. and Coleman at 1:15 p.m. before moving on to B.C.
The Holiday Train’s visit will include musical performances by Canadian singer-songwriter Melanie Doane and jazz musician Matt Dusk. Others who have performed with the Holiday Train in 2013 include Jim Cuddy, Crystal Shawanda and Doc Walker.
After the band and singers get the party started there will be a brief ceremony involving CP officials, food bank representatives and local dignitaries.
Once the ceremony complete, the band resumes its show of 30 minutes of music that includes a mix of traditional and modern holiday-themed songs.
Food bank officials will be on hand to accept donations of non-perishable food items that will help fill the shelves of the food banks in each community.
Since the Holiday Train program first launched in 1999, it has raised $7.4-million and three million pounds of food for local communities.
All the money that is raised and the food that is collected says in the community where it is collected, so the food banks in Blackie, Vulcan, Lethbridge, Fort Macleod, Pincher Creek and Coleman will benefit from the Holiday Train’s arrival on Monday and Tuesday.
Since 1999, the Holiday Train has covered about 100,000 miles and entertained hundreds of thousands of supporters.
It takes 30 Canadian Pacific “elves” about 100 days to completely transform and decorate the two Holiday Trains before they start their journey across Canada and the U.S.
In 2012, more than 20,000 candy canes were handed out to the kids at Holiday Train events. In the 14 years of the Holiday Train program, it is estimated over a quarter of a million candy canes have been given out to children as treats.
The Holiday Train started its 15th annual journey on Nov. 25 in Kahnawake, Que, and will end its journey on Dec. 16 in Port Coquitlam, B.C. Another Holiday Train is making a journey through the U.S.