This was one of the most polarizing elections of my lifetime, with intense emotions on both sides. I think it’s fair to say that we need to come together (now more than ever). One small but meaningful way we can make an impact in our local communities is by visiting the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train when it rolls into town this December. Food banks typically struggle to keep up with demand, particularly at this time of year. To assist in stocking area food shelves, attendees are encouraged to bring healthy food donations to this free event (rice, cereal, peanut butter, dried beans, and canned tuna and chicken are especially helpful).
In addition to the philanthropic work they do, the Holiday Train is a sight to behold, decorated in thousands of festive lights. There will be live music from Canadian singer/songwriter Colin James and Americana artist Kelly Prescott, performing in renovated boxcars decked out with stage lights and sound equipment.
The 2016 train will make its way across seven states and six provinces, performing more than 150 shows across Canada and the U.S.
Minnesota is fortunate enough to be part of that route.
Mark your calendars. Here’s when you’ll be able to see the Holiday Train in Minnesota:
Thursday, December 8:
Winona — 65 E. Mark St., Amtrak Station — 4 p.m.
Wabasha — Gambie Avenue railroad crossing by Bruegger Park — 6 p.m.
Hastings — 500 E. Second St. (CP Depot) — 8:30 p.m.
Friday, December 9:
Cottage Grove — south of Seiben Bridge, in front of the Youth Service Bureau — 5:45 p.m.
St. Paul — Union Depot, 214 E. 4th St. — 7:15 p.m. (This stop will include a visit from Rafael Ortega, Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority.) Avoid traffic congestion and take the Metro Transit green line or bus to the Union Depot.
Saturday, December 10:
New Hope — Level Railway Crossing at 49th Street — 2:20 p.m.
Golden Valley — Level Railway Crossing at Golden Hills Drive — 3:35 p.m.
St. Louis Park — Railway Crossing at the intersection of West Lake Street and Library Lane — 4:35 p.m.
Northeast Minneapolis — Lions Park on 37th Avenue, between 37th Avenue and Stinson Boulevard — 7 p.m.
Sunday, December 11:
Loretto — Hennepin County Road 19 Crossing — 4:15 p.m.
Buffalo — 612 Northeast 3rd Avenue — 5:45 p.m.
Annandale — West Side of Downtown Park, over the Oak Avenue crossing — 7:15 p.m.
Eden Valley — State Street Railroad Crossing — 8:55 p.m.
Monday, December 12:
Glenwood — 20 15th Street NE — 10 a.m.
Alexandria — 8th Avenue East Railroad Crossing by Hubbard Feed Mill at 8th and Nokomis — 11:30 a.m.
Detroit Lakes — Holmes Street Railroad Crossing near Holmes Community Center, 826 Summit — 2:30 p.m.
Callaway — Railway Street between Dakota Street and Minnesota Street — 3:50 p.m.
Plummer — Main railway crossing on Central Avenue — 6 p.m.
Thief River Falls — City Hall, 405 3rd Street E — 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, December 13:
Elbow Lake — Main Street Crossing — 4:15 p.m. before moving on to North Dakota
TIPS FOR VIEWING THE TRAIN
• General admission is free, but at the St. Paul location, all proceeds from a $5 (+fees) VIP Ticket will go to Merrick Community Services Food Shelf. VIP Ticket holders will be granted access to a preferred viewing area closest to the stage. Information on how to access this area will be included in the confirmation email you will receive after you purchase your tickets. (Children under 2 years of age do not require a VIP ticket, but must be accompanied by an adult. No strollers are allowed in the VIP area so please plan accordingly.) Purchase VIP Tickets to the Union Depot stop at: Holiday Train VIP Tickets.
• It can get crowded—strollers are strongly discouraged.
• The stops are standing room only.
• Be prepared to wait in line.
• The whole event, from the time the train rolls to a stop to the time the performers are done, is about 30 minutes, so don’t be late. (They have to adhere to a tight schedule.)
Go on a horse-drawn wagon ride (available at certain stops), drink hot cocoa, and join together with people of all ages as you watch the train come ‘round the bend. This is a great way to celebrate the season with friends and neighbors while supporting those in need. Since the program’s inception back in 1999, more than $9 million and 3.9 million pounds of food has been collected in Canada and the United States. For more information, visit cpr.ca/holiday-train/united-states.
This year, there’s also a “Capture the Spirit” photo contest on social media, with the chance to win a ride on next year’s Holiday Train. Details are on the Holiday Train Facebook page.