The CP Holiday Train this year will choo-choo its way across Central Alberta this holiday season.
The train will bring cheer to Ponoka, Lacombe, Blackfalds and Innisfail just weeks ahead of Christmas.
The train is scheduled to leave Wetaskiwin around 4:30 p.m. Dec. 6 and arrive in Ponoka at 5:30 p.m. It will then head south to Lacombe arriving at 7:15 p.m. and in Blackfalds at 8:20 p.m.
The next day, the train will pull into Innisfail at 1:15 p.m. before heading to Olds where it will arrive at 2:35 p.m.
The popular train will feature entertainment from Colin James and Emma-Lee who will sing holiday favourites to warm up the crowd.
Richard Poole, mayor of Blackfalds, said he couldn’t participate in the festivities last year when the train was in town, but he won’t miss it this year.
“Last year, the train was here during the day and this time it’s arriving in the evening and it will be even better with all the pretty lights,” he said.
A typical CP Holiday Train appearance lasts about 30 minutes at each stop. Rides on the holiday train are not open to the public.
The train pulls into Innisfail at 52 Avenue and 50 Street; it stops in Ponoka at 50 Street and 47 Avenue, and arrives at the Len Thompson Fish Pond in Lacombe. Blackfalds residents will be able to check out the train at the CP Tracks at Gregg Street between Broadway Avenue and East Avenue.
The CP Holiday Train, now in its 19th year, is always an exciting event with thousands attending to enjoy the fun in the cool December weather.
On top of the entertainment, there is a much-needed boost that goes to local food banks.
“The train is a great attraction and it’s a fundraiser and food raiser for our active local food bank that’s run by volunteers,” said Poole.
There’s no cost to participate in the CP holiday festivities, but residents are encouraged to bring food and monetary donations for their local food banks, states the CP Holiday Train website.
Last year, CP donated $4,000 to the Ponoka Food Bank.
At the Lacombe Community Food Bank, it was able to add approximately 312 pounds of food last year.
Millie Snow, general manager at the Lacombe Community Food Bank said the train helps the food bank whenever it arrives.
“We park a couple pickups where the train stops for people to donate food items and we usually serve hot chocolate and people enjoy it,” said Snow.
One of the benefits of the train has been the money raised over the years. Since 1999, more than $13 million and four million pounds of food have been donated to food banks across North America. What is raised in the community, stays in the community.
In an effort to bring healthy choices to the food banks, the CP Holiday Train organizers request those donating make healthy choices.
“Through the CP Holiday Train, we not only want to help restock food banks, we want to ensure people have access to healthy, nutritious food,” states the CP Holiday Train website.
Using the social media hashtag: #HealthyDonations, planners request these items for donations.
Follow Food Banks Canada’s heart-healthy donation recommendations and bring:
l Grain Products — whole grain bread, brown rice, whole wheat crackers, hot and cold cereals, granola bars, muffins.
l Vegetables and Fruit — canned fruit and vegetables, 100 per cent fruit juice, tomato sauce, canned soup, tomato juice, and applesauce.
l Milk Products — dry milk powder, milk puddings, cheese spreads, fresh milk, yogurt, and cheese (if accepted).
l Meat and alternatives — canned meat and fish, peanut butter, canned baked beans, dried or canned beans and lentils.
l Reduced sodium canned and jarred goods are preferred.
For more information visit cpr.ca/holiday-train/canada