A holiday tradition is returning to Airdrie Dec. 7, as the Canadian Pacific (CP) Holiday Train rolls into town for an evening of live entertainment, festive Christmas lights and holiday cheer.
The train, which embarks upon a Canada-wide tour from Quebec to British Columbia each November and December, will make its annual stop at Nose Creek Regional Park at 5:45 p.m., coinciding with the conclusion of the Airdrie Parade Committee’s Santa Claus Parade. Folks won’t be able to miss the incoming locomotive, as a dozen of the train’s cars will be adorned with brightly coloured Christmas lights.
Mallory McCredie, CP communications advisor, said the yearly tradition offers the company a chance to say thank you.
“I think it’s a really nice way to touch base in all these communities, whether they’re big cities or small towns, just to…make sure we’re giving back in the communities,” she said. “It’s a really fun show and great lights, but at the end of the day, it’s nice to have that touching moment with every community.”
Charity is an important component of the CP Holiday Train, according to McCredie, as the initiative raises money and collects donations for local food banks along the train’s route. Since 1999, according to CP’s website, the initiative has raised more than $15.8 million and collected 4.5-million pounds of food donations for local food banks.
“It’s a huge event – I believe we had over 5,000 people last year,” said Christine Taylor, marketing and communication manager for the Airdrie Food Bank. "It always depends on the weather, but it is big.
"And I think it’s going to be even bigger this year, with the choose-your-own-holiday-adventure, with the Santa Claus Parade, the CP Holiday Train, and then it will be the first Saturday night of the Airdrie Festival of Lights. With all those events at one time, we expect it to be quite busy.”
Once the train has come to a safe stop behind the Nose Creek Museum, the east-facing side of one of the stage cars will drop down and Canadian musicians Scott Helman and Madeline Merlo will perform a series of songs, beginning at roughly 6 p.m.
Following the country/rock concert, a CP representative will present a cheque to the Airdrie Food Bank.
The event is free to attend, though McCredie said attendees are encouraged to bring donations to support the food bank.
“We do ask when people bring food donations…we’d like them to be conscious of trying to bring healthy options so people in need are being provided with nutritious options and not just fillers,” she said.
Taylor added the food bank is looking for donations that will enhance recipients’ Christmas dinners this year.
“Things like small hams, stuffing, gravy, canned cranberries, hot chocolate and Christmas beverages,” she said, “[as well as] all those items you need for baking…so people can still do their traditional Christmas baking.”
If Airdronians want to experience an encore performance, the CP Holiday Train’s next stop will be in Calgary Dec. 8 at 5:45 p.m., at the Anderson C-train station parking lot. Following that, the train will continue towards Okotoks, before making its way through southern Alberta and crossing the British Columbia border.
The train will finally stop chugging Dec. 17, when it reaches Port Coquitlam, B.C.