By Mabell, Dave on December 10, 2019.
Canadian Pacific’s brightly lit Holiday Train – created to support food banks across the nation – will be arriving in Lethbridge at 7 p.m. today.
With thousands of coloured LED lights strung along the 14-car train – about 1,000 feet long – the Holiday Train has become an iconic prelude to Christmas across Canada.
As reported earlier in The Herald, it will be arriving from Calgary, giving photographers an opportunity to snap it as it crosses the city’s famous bridge. In a column reference in Saturday’s edition, a Wednesday arrival was incorrectly indicated.
On Wednesday, southern Albertans can enjoy the holiday show when the train arrives at the 5 Avenue crossing in Fort Macleod at 9:15 a.m., at a 10:35 a.m. stop near Pincher Creek or at a 12:40 p.m. stop in Coleman.
In Lethbridge, Western Canadian musicians Terri Clark and Dallas Smith will entertain from 7:15 to 7:45 p.m., after the train stops adjacent to the Centre Village Mall parking lot west of London Drugs. The event is free, but everyone is invited to bring a cash or food donation to assist the Lethbridge Food Bank and the Interfaith Food Bank.
Canadian Pacific says the Holiday Train, first operated in 1999, has raised more than $15.8 million and more than 4.5 million pounds of food for local food banks over the years since.
“Everything raised in a community stays in that community,” organizers say. “In addition, Canadian Pacific makes a contribution at each stop.”
Canada’s first coast-to-coast railway, Canadian Pacific now operates in more than 1,100 communities.
“Our 12,000 employees are very proud of the Holiday Train program,” they add. “We know that hunger is an issue that can and does impact our neighbours.”
With that many cities and towns on its lines, Canadian Pacific can’t route the train through every community each year. But planners make a point of including communities that offer the most support.
“We will largely base the decision around participation from the community, including the support of local elected officials, the food bank, and a willingness from community members to come out and support the cause,” they explain.
As part of that effort, they have created a two-year cycle for the route, with the Holiday Train visiting Lethbridge and many other communities which are not on the “main line” through Calgary every second year.
This year’s train left Montreal on Nov. 25, scheduled to arrive on Dec. 17 at Port Moody – the original “end of line” before Vancouver became the largest centre and the railway was extended.
In more recent years, Canadian Pacific has built a network of connecting rail lines in northern American states, from New York to North Dakota. A second Holiday Train began touring through communities along those routes in late November, supporting local food banks along the way before making its way north into Saskatchewan.