The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train will once again roll down the rails from Canada to Bellevue, as it embarks on its first tour here in four years.
The ever-popular and unique Christmas-themed engine and accompanying rail cars are scheduled for a 6:45 p.m. whistle-stop on Tuesday, Dec. 6 on the tracks on the west side of Horizon Hall on Jefferson Ave.
The lights, music and winter cheer of the event will help to benefit the Bellevue Bread Basket to feed those in need this coming holiday season.
Collections will be taken on site and everyone in Jackson County is encouraged to come and witness the magic of helping others.
Live musical entertainment from one of the train’s lighted boxcars will feature Canadian music stars Alan Doyle and Kelly Prescott, who will perforn at tour stops in Iowa.
Times are approximate for the train and the musical performance, so spectators are encouraged to arrive early.
The decorated, lighted train, which rolls through Bellevue every two years, raises money and goods for food pantries and also raises awareness of hunger throughout the United States and Canada. The Holiday train has made stops here in 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016 and 2018 which resulted in tens of thousands of dollars in donations and truckloads of needed food. The last stop in Bellevue in 2018 raised well over $4,000 for the Bellevue Bread Basket, and brought swarms of people to town.
During the pandemic in 2020, the CP Holiday Train did not go on tour, but the railroad still donated over $3,000 to the Bellevue Bread Basket, which distributes food 2-4 p.m. on the third Thursday of every month from the Bellevue Community Center.
Since the Holiday Train program launched in 1999, it's raised more than $21 million and collected 5 million pounds of food for community food banks across North America.
The Holiday Train program has gained a tremendous following in its 23 years and has really become part of the social fabric for many communities during the holidays. In some places the Holiday Train program can raise the majority of money a food bank requires for the year.
For those who have never witnessed the CP Holiday Train, a typical stop goes something like this: 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. After that, a brief ceremony takes place which involves local food bank officials and other dignitaries. Once complete, the band resumes its show.
After about a half hour that usually includes a mix of traditional and modern holiday-themed songs, the band plays its farewell song, the boxcar door closes, and the train slips off into the night on its way to the next stop in Dubuque, where it will arrive at about 8:30 p.m. with an event from 8:45 to 9:15 p.m. at the Hawthorne Street railroad crossing, corner of Hawthorne Street and Rhomberg Avenue.
“The Holiday Train shines a bright light on the importance of supporting food banks and how local residents can join the Holiday Train's spirit in feeding our communities across the country,” said a Canadian Pacific spokesperson. “The program is an important community initiative for CP employees as more than 15,000 of us live and work in more than 1,100 North American communities. Hunger is an issue that can, and does, impact all of our neighbors.”
As well as the stop in Bellevue, the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train will makes stops this year in six Canadian provinces and seven states in the continental United States.
"For more than 20 years, CP has watched communities turn out to enjoy a wonderful event while taking a stand against hunger," said E. Hunter Harrison, CP's Chief Executive Officer.
"We are proud of the role the Holiday Train plays, but more importantly, we're proud of the people and families that come out year after year to help their neighbors. They're the reason we keep bringing the train back."
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