THUNDER BAY -- An annual holiday tradition rolled and whistled into the city Tuesday night.
Thousands gathered outside the CP Rail Station as the Holiday Train made its Thunder Bay stop. The festive train started its three-week journey on Nov. 28 in Beaconsfield, Que., and will cross the country before finishing up in Port Moody, B.C., on Dec. 18. Everyone who attends was encouraged to donate food and money, to the local food banks.
Louis Bouchard, his son Louis Jr. and his daughter Louanna were one of the first to greet the brightly decorated train as it pulled into the station.
He said it’s an annual tradition for him to take his children out to see the train come in.
“The thing that makes this so special is for the kids to see Santa Claus,” he said.
The Brothers Dubé kicked off the night’s entertainment followed by other Canadian performers including Doc Walker and Miss Emily.
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Jamie Huntus came with her friend to enjoy the show and experience a holiday tradition. She said she wanted to come out, hear the music, and see something different.
“I want to get into the spirit of Christmas and see new faces,” Huntus said. “The best part of this is everyone coming together to celebrate Christmas and watch a good show.”
Leslie Cano on the other hand had never seen the train before and called the new sight “holidayarific”. She said one of the best things in life is doing something that you haven’t done before and that’s why she wanted to come this year.
She added it was also great to help the Regional Food Distribution Association.
Volker Kromm, spokesman for the RFDA, said the holiday train, like the Christmas Parade, is one of the events that bring Santa Claus to town.
“It’s also very special to us because it brings the CP tradition of donating to the food banks for people that need it the most,” Kromm said. “You can see there’s lots of excitement. The kids are here even on a school night but the families are here to see Santa Claus and donate to a very worthy cause.”
Since its inception in 1999, the festive campaign has raised more than $6.4 million and more 2.6 million pounds of food in the U.S. and Canada. Kromm said besides the public’s donations, CP Rail also donates a significant amount that allows the food banks to last beyond the holiday season.
After its brief stop in the city, the train will continue on to Ignace, Dryden, Vermilion Bay and Kenora.
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