Christmas spirit on the tracks

The Holiday Train is set to light up Nelson this holiday season in hope of spurring people to give back to their local food banks.

The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train is set to light up Nelson once again this holiday season with Christmas cheer and tunes in hopes of spurring people to give back to their local food banks.

The Holiday Train, which last stopped in Nelson two years ago, will be rolling into Lakeside Park on December 12. It will be illuminated by more than 100,000 lights arranged in an all-new design from previous years.

Musical acts by folk artist Valdy and Tracy Brown will be performed on a train car, which converts into a stage for the performances.

“This year we’ve decided to go with Valdy, he’s a folk legend in his field and Tracy Brown, who brings that extra amazing sound to Christmas music,” said Kevin Hrysak, manager of media relations for Canadian Pacific.

“It’s hopefully something that will appeal to all ages and it has so far.”

The all ages event is free to the public, but Hrysak urges those wishing to attend to think of others as they enjoy the festivities.

“All we ask anybody willing to come out to this festive event is that they bring a non-perishable food item or a monetary donation in support of their local food bank and everything raised within that individual community stays in that community,” said Hrysak.

Over the past 13 years since the Holiday Train first started its tour through Canada and the US, close to $5.6 million and 2.5 million pounds of food have been donated to North American food banks. In some communities, the train’s visit is one of the main fundraisers for the entire year.

In Nelson, the Holiday Train has traditionally only contributed to the Salvation Army, however both the Salvation Army and the Nelson Food Cupboard will be receiving donations from the Holiday Train event this year.

“It’s great because we serve over 1,000 customers a month who are in need to good quality healthy food, so the more we can bring in the better,” said Marya Skrypiczajko, coordinator for the Nelson Food Cupboard.

“It’s also great to work together with the Salvation Army on a food project as a team instead of us working as two individual organizations.”

Skrypiczajko said the decision came from Mayor John Dooley and city council who recognized that both groups were serving the population doing very similar work.

Both the Salvation Army and the Nelson Food Cupboard will be at Lakeside Park to collect donations on December 12 when the train stops for a performance at 6:45 p.m.

Skrypiczajko said that at the end of the night they’ll make sure that both groups have about the same amount of food.

“It’s definitely something to be noted that hundreds of thousands of Canadians are resorting to having to use a food bank every month, so we definitely want to get that word out to support your food bank and also hopefully bring some awareness that this type of support needs to be seen year round,” said Hrysak.

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