One of the benefits of living in a Midwest city that still operates a thriving rail system is the Holiday Train. While not quite the Polar Express, the Holiday Train still draws a large crowd at each stop it makes as it travels across North America. Despite the freezing cold temperatures last year, I was able to attend the event as the train rolled through Minneapolis. The stop is located in Lions Park, dividing the cities of Minneapolis and Columbia Heights. I had no idea that it was an actual park until this event. It is more a leftover patch of grass in-between the street and railroad tracks.
We talked to strangers as we all huddled around the fire rings, waiting for the train to arrive. I find it so interesting in any crowded situation, you can always find strangers willing to talk, especially in slightly miserable circumstances like that cold night. Many attendees walked across the parking lot to keep warm while shopping in Unique Thrift Store. Finally, the train horn could be heard as the arms came down across the tracks. Holiday music bellowed from the train as the lit up cars came in and stopped at the park. After a few minutes of taking pictures and walking down the line of rail cars we left to get warm at home. Other better dressed or committed families stayed to listen to the musical performances.
The Canadian Pacific Railroad has been running the Holiday Train for 19 years. Since its start in 199 it has raised more than $13 million and four million pounds of food for communities along the routes in Canada and the United States. According to Canadian Pacific's President and CEO, "The Holiday Train program is all about local food banks and food shelves and the critical role they play in our communities."
You can even track where the train is at any given time. Last night it stopped in Lions Park, but its currently on its way to New Hope, Minnesota. Two Holiday Trains runs, one in the United States and one in Canada. Attendees are encouraged to take photographs that "Capture the Spirit" and enter into the contest to win a ride on the train. It really is like the Polar Express without ending at the north pole.