Thousands of colored lights will brighten the twilight Sunday, Dec. 15, when the Canadian Pacific Railway’s Holiday Train — decorated to the hilt — makes a 4:15 p.m. stop in Loretto at the County Road 19 railroad crossing.
The train’s annual expedition across North America brings both fun and hunger relief to communities along the way. Last year the train’s visit to Loretto generated more than $17,000 and 1,800 pounds of food for food shelves in Hanover, Rockford, Delano and Maple Plain.
Both the Loretto community and the Holiday Train will offer holiday entertainment and activities. The Claytones, a roots music group, and Willy Porter, a Nashville singer and songwriter, along with singer Tracey Brown, will entertain visitors from a lighted boxcar stage on the Holiday Train.
Community festivities will begin at 3 p.m. on West Railway Street, so visitors will have chances to rev up their holiday spirits before the train arrives. Area businesses and volunteers will serve as hosts.
Visitors will want to arrive in time to meet Santa, take rides on the kiddie train and hay wagon and indulge in free hot chocolate and cookies. The KRWC radio station out of Buffalo will broadcast the event live and play holiday music. Caroling, bonfires and other activities are planned. All activities are free.
All four food shelves will share proceeds again this year. Watch for a truck near the event where volunteers will collect food donations. Cash donations and checks payable to the Hanover Food Shelf also will be accepted. Loretto City Hall, 279 N. Medina St., Suite 260, is receiving donations as well during office hours Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and Wednesday, 3-6 p.m.
Road closures will begin at 2:30 p.m., with shuttle service and parking provided at the Loretto Softball Fields on County Road 19 and the Saints Peter and Paul Church parking lot. The shuttle will run from 3-6 p.m. between the two parking lots and West Railway Street.
Two Canadian Pacific Railway Holiday Trains rolled out of Kahnawake, Quebec, on Nov. 25 to begin journeys to 150 communities. One is traveling across Canada and one across the U.S. Upper Midwest. They will make their last stops on Dec. 19.
Since 1999, the Holiday Train program has raised $7.4 million and 3 million pounds of food for food shelves.
To celebrate the train’s 15th anniversary and raise hunger awareness, Canadian Pacific Railway is offering free signature concerts in Hamilton, Ontario; Calgary, Alberta; and Cottage Grove, Minn., featuring Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Tom Cochrane with Red Rider, The Tenors, Great Big Sea, Matt Dusk, Natalie MacMaster, and Take 6.
Every event is free, but attendees are asked to bring a cash or nonperishable food donations for their local food shelves. Everything raised at each event stays there for local distribution.
Joined by award-winning a cappella group Take 6, Sheryl Crow will headline a free concert when the Holiday Train makes its annual stop at Cottage Grove on Dec. 14. This Holiday Train signature event, in support of the Friends in Need Food Shelf, is taking place at the Railway Yard (9250 Ideal Avenue) and kicks off with the opening of the North Pole Station at 4 p.m. The concert will follow at 5 p.m.
The North Pole Station will feature family-oriented interactive activities, including ice carving, hot chocolate and a chance for the kids to visit Santa before making their way to the concert stage.
In addition to raising money and food for local food banks, Canadian Pacific will match all donations to the Breakfast Club of Canada and Feeding America during this year’s Holiday Train journey. People are encouraged to go to www.breakfastclubcanada.org in Canada and www.feedingamerica.org/holidaytrain in the United States to make a donation that the railway in turn will match dollar for dollar. This matching program is above and beyond the donations made to community food shelves at each stop.
Loretto to light up for Holiday Train
Loretto is holding its annual residential Holiday Lighting Contest early this year to light up the city for the Dec. 15 visit of the Holiday Train. Contestants must live in Loretto.
The process for deciding the winning entries will take on a new twist that involves Facebook and the city of Loretto website.
The city is asking this year’s contestants to take photos of their lit up houses and submit them to the city of Loretto. City staff will post photos on the website and the city Facebook page, labelled Holiday Train – Loretto MN, where visitors can vote for their favorite displays. (Voting details will be announced.) Submit photos to Jeff Leuer, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The final day to vote will be Dec. 11. Winners will be notified by Dec. 13.
Area businesses will donate prizes.
Grand prize will be a Millennium Hotel – Holidazzle Package, $250 Value. The package includes “King Club” Winter Stay and Play, One night stay at Millennium Hotel, Friday, Dec. 20, along with complimentary parking at the hotel for the entire stay, full access to the hotel’s club lounge, a $50 Macy’s gift card and hot chocolate prior to the Holidazzle parade at 6:30 p.m.
Second prize will be four tickets to a Minnesota Wild hockey game. Third prize will be two club level tickets to the Dec. 17 Wild game with free parking pass, and fourth prize will be two tickets the Jan. 3. Minnesota Gophers hockey game.
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