Halloween decorations may still be up for many locals, but the CP Holiday Train has already announced plans to choo-choo its way into Central Alberta this holiday season.
The train will be in Central Alberta in December – greeting communities such as Lacombe, Innisfail, Blackfalds, Olds and Airdrie.
A typical CP Holiday Train event consists of performers and a brief presentation from local food bank officials and dignitaries. Rides on the holiday train are not open to the public.
“The train arrives and pulls to a safe stop in front of the crowd. The stage door lowers and the band opens with its first song,” its website states.
Once the presentation ends, the band resumes performing a mix of traditional and modern holiday-themed songs.
Performers at the event this year are Terri Clark, Sierra Noble and Kelly Prescott.
The entire event in any community lasts about 30 minutes.
“Once the band plays its farewell song, the stage door closes, and the train heads off to the next stop,” the website continues.
Blackfalds Mayor Richard Poole said about 1,500 people attended the event last year, and he expects the same number this year.
Poole will be at the festivities this year. He said he enjoys how the event brings the community together during the holiday season.
“We really love it when CP is able to come out and provide entertainment,” he said.
The holiday train not only provides entertainment to thousands of Canadians, but also supports local food banks.
Since 1999, the holiday train has raised more than $14.5 million and 4.3 million pounds of food for North American food banks, the website states. Everything raised in a community stays in that community. In addition, CP makes a donation at each stop.
This year, the train will make its way from Calgary to Blackfalds on Dec. 9. The event time at CP Tracks at Gregg Street between Broadway Avenue and East Avenue is from 1 to 1:30 p.m.
Blackfalds Food Bank Society chair Karie Ackermann said the event helps change hunger into hope.
She said the event helps raise awareness that hunger exists in our communities and families need help, especially during Christmastime when people feel the holiday pressure.
“It’s the hardest time of the year for many low-income families and those who are single and seniors,” she said.
“It shows people that there are neighbours, friends that your child goes to school with who are hungry and we need to change that.”
From Blackfalds, the train will head to Lacombe, arriving at 2 p.m. the same day. The event time at The Len Thompson Fish Pond is 2:15 to 2:45 p.m.
Millie Snow, Lacombe Community Food Bank and Thrift Store general manager, said she will attend the event this year.
Snow said the food drive during the holiday train is one of the biggest events for the local charity. Hundreds of people bring food items and drop them off before enjoying the festivities.
The event is something Snow enjoys.
“It’s quite nice, especially if it comes at night, because of all the lights,” she said, adding that the event is equally enjoyable during the day.
The train will also greet Ponoka residents the same day between 4 and 4:30 p.m., at 50th Street and 47th Avenue, after which it will make its way to Wetaskiwin, Millet, Leduc, Josephburg and Edmonton.
From Alberta’s capital city, it will head to Innisfail, arriving on Dec. 11 at 1:15 p.m. The event time at 52nd Avenue and 50th Street (the FasGas crossing) is 1:25 to 1:55 p.m.
At 2:35 p.m., the same day, the train will arrive at Olds’ 50th Street level crossing, with the event time at 2:45 to 3:15 p.m.
It will then make its way to Didsbury, Airdrie, Cochrane, Morley, Canmore and Banff.
The CP Holiday Train is asking for healthy donations for the local food banks, including grain products such as brown rice, whole wheat crackers, whole grain bread and granola bars.
Canned fruits and vegetables, tomato sauce, canned soup and applesauce will also be accepted.
Canned meat and fish, peanut butter, canned baked beans, dried or canned beans and lentils are also on the list. The website states reduced sodium canned and jarred goods are preferred.
For more information, check with your local food bank.