Two Canadian Pacific Holiday trains are making their way across the United States and Canada after a two-year Covid absence. In November, both trains departed from Montreal, Canada and will visit 168 communities before arriving at their last stops on December 18th. At every stop, a motorized side door is lowered down from a customized 50-foot-long box car and transforms into a sound stage in front of a waiting audience. The travelling musicians step out and begin performing a collection of old and new seasonal themed tunes. Performances are free and last 30 minutes.
Leading the 14 nostalgic rail cars is a General Electric Dash 8 diesel locomotive. In tow are a series of 50- and 60-foot box cars, then the customized sound stage box car, ended with several 60-foot passenger carrying Madison observation cars. The holidays come to life in seeing the locomotive to the last car adorned with thousands of led lights, and festive music radiating out as it travels to each railroad terminal.
Since its launch in 1999, the Holiday Train has raised more than $21 million and 5 million pounds of food for local community food banks across Canada and the United States. Attendees are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items or make cash donations.
Our day to see the Holiday Train was a wet and windy one, but it did not stop the faithful from attending. Hundreds of umbrella toting, raincoat wearing fans showed up. I asked one of the event organizers if a show had ever been canceled. He reported it has never happened also saying, “I have seen them perform in rain, sleet and snow.” Today’s performance was a testament to the old idiom, “the show must go on.”
We watched and cheered on Tenille Towns and Aysanabee as they performed for us on the open-air venue. Rain drops bouncing off the stage, the musicians and our umbrellas only brought more energy to the concert. There definitely was an appreciation for the fan turn out from the performers and a reciprocal feeling reflected by the jubilant crowd. During the show, we were called to the stage for a photo to remember with Tenille Townes. Here we are under the cover of my umbrella; three rain-soaked rats.