The 23rd annual Canadian Pacific Holiday Train will not be chugging into Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows this season.
Just like last year, a virtual concert is going to be held instead to raise money for local food banks across the country.
Since 1999, the annual CP Holiday Train has made its way across Canada and the northern United States while raising money, food, and awareness for local food banks and the services they provide to communities on both sides of the border.
The train is usually decorated in a colourful array of Christmas lights and a free concert is played to delight of the hundreds of people who have turned out at events before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even Santa Claus would make an appearance.
The CP Holiday train began stopping in Maple Ridge at the Haney Wharf which is now the West Coast Haney Station in 2012, said Mary Robson, executive director of the Friends In Need Food Bank.
In 2014, she explained, a second stop was added at Harris Road Crossing in Pitt Meadows. When that happened the proceeds from the event doubled as did the donation from CP Rail, noted Robson. The food bank received $7,000 per stop for a total of $14,000 direct from CP Rail.
The stop in Pitt Meadows is usually an iconic stop because the stage opens on both sides.
In 2019 the CP Holiday Train raised $20,000 which included $14,000 from CP Rail and the balance was donations from attendees at the two stops in both cities. It was the largest, one day fundraiser for the food bank that year.
In 2020 the event was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but CP still made a donation of $15,000.
“The CP Holiday Train has become a community event which took place no matter what the weather was,” said Robson.
Robson said they were devastated when the train was cancelled last year because it was a loss of an iconic event for both communities.
“The CP Holiday Train is an uplifting, family event which does so much good for food banks across Canada and it is sorely missed. We hope, as we learn to live with COVID, the CP Holiday Train will return to make its trip across Canada bringing a dazzling light show, great entertainment and joy to all who attend,” said Robson.
“We need it more than ever,” she added.
Keith Creel, CP President and Chief Executive Officer explained the spirit of the Holiday Train is about giving generously and inspiring others to give as well.
“While we are disappointed we again cannot bring the Holiday Train to communities, we are honored to run a virtual program and continue to support communities and food banks across our network as they work to address food insecurity in North America.”
Over the years the CP Holiday Train has raised $19.4 million and collected 4.9 million pounds of food for community food banks along the rail network.
Details about the upcoming benefit concert are expected to be announced mid-November.
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