CP HOLIDAY TRAIN

It might not be Santa's sleigh, but this train brings holiday spirit all the same

All photos courtesy of the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train

By Lianna Matt

Santa’s sleigh isn’t the only courier of the holiday spirit. With the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train, though, it's all about giving, not getting. Since 1999, the CP Holiday Train has made almost 200 annual stops across Canada and the United States, raising donations for local food shelves and spreading holiday cheer. This year, it is making 26 stops across the state of Minnesota alone from Dec. 5-13, including metro cities like Minneapolis and Cottage Grove Dec. 9 as well as St. Louis Park, New Hope and Golden Valley Dec. 10.

Courtesy of the CP Holiday Train. Live music rings out from the open train car doors to the crowd gathered at the CP Holiday Train stop.Made up of thousands of LED holiday lights and 14 train cars that equal about 1,000 feet in length, the CP Holiday Train already looks festive as it pulls up to your stop, but then it opens its doors and the real celebration begins. Live music by country singers Terri Clark, Dallas Smith and Kelly Prescott adds to the merriment, and a brief ceremony by local food bank and city leaders makes the whole evening official. Many of the sites also offer additional activities and refreshments before, during and after the train rolls into the stop.

The only admission cost isn’t really a cost; it’s a food or monetary donation that goes straight to your local food shelf. All of those cans, boxes and collected change make a difference: In the past 18 years, the CP Holiday Train has raised more than $10 million and 4 million pounds of food.

Although each train stop, a 30-minute concert and ceremony may be simple—it does take place outdoors, after all—its never short on charm. Looking at the array of lights and illuminated pictures on the train cars brings out the childhood excitement in all of us, and the simple act of coming together to give back and have some fun is what the holidays are all about. So check your calendars to see when the CP Holiday Train is coming to town: It may not be Santa's sleigh, but with the joy it provides, it's pretty dang close.

For a complete list of the CP Holiday Train’s stops, visit cpr.ca./holiday-train.

Photo courtesy of the CP Holiday Train. The train flies through the night across snow-covered lands, its holiday lights always shining bright except across the border of Canada to the U.S.

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