The CP Holiday Train is coming to central Alberta on Friday and Saturday. Contributed photo

CP Holiday Train returns to central Alberta this week

The CP Holiday Train will roll through central Alberta this week, bringing Christmas cheer.

Musicians Scott Helman and Madeline Merlo will perform at each stop throughout central Alberta on Friday and Saturday.

On Friday, the train will stop in Wetaskiwin at 3:25 p.m., Ponoka at 5 p.m., Lacombe at 6:50 p.m. and Blackfalds at 8:05 p.m.

On Saturday, the train will come to Innisfail at 1:15 p.m., Olds at 2:45 p.m., and Didsbury at 4:05 p.m., before carrying on to Airdrie later in the day.

The train is about 1,000 feet long with 14 brightly lit rail cars, which are decorated with hundreds of thousands of LED lights and holiday designs to celebrate the season.

A typical stop features live performances of traditional and modern holiday-themed songs and a brief presentation with local food bank officials and other dignitaries.

Keith Creel, CP president and chief executive officer, said the company has “immense pride” in the Holiday Train program.

“Access to nutritious food is a basic necessity, and food bank usage is on the rise across North America. The CP Holiday Train program is our way to help in the fight against hunger by growing awareness of this issue and providing a fun and engaging way for the public to show their support,” Creel said on the CP website.

Since 1999, the Holiday Train has raised more than $15.8 million and collected 4.5 million pounds of food for North American food banks. Everything raised at a stop stays in that community. CP also makes a donation at each visit.

According to the CP website, there are a number of factors that determine the Holiday Train schedule.

“We consider our entire network of track, but 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,” the site said.

“We try to include as many communities as we can, and will alternate routes from one year to the next.”

Each event lasts about 30 minutes.

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