Holiday Train returns to Park

Event serves as a fundraiser, food drive for STEP


Breanna Thompson

The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train will come to St. Louis Park at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 11 outside STEP by the train tracks. It will serve as a fundraiser and food drive for STEP.

Maggie Klaers

Junior Amaya Fokuo said her past experiences with the Holiday Train have been enjoyable.

“I enjoyed it a lot. We took my little cousin last time, his little friends, and my brother. The kids really enjoy the music, and I enjoyed it too,” Fokuo said. “It’s a fun family activity and everyone can enjoy it.”

Musician Willy Porter said the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train travels to different neighborhoods in the Twin Cities, putting on a concert to raise food and money for food banks in the area.

“This is the 20th year the train has run. Basically, we go from community to community, helping local food banks and playing a rock show in the open air on a converted rail car as part of Canadian Pacific’s outreach (program),” Porter said.

According to Mayor Jake Spano, STEP has been chosen as the beneficiary of the donations for the past three years.

“This is the third year that the train has been coming to St. Louis Park, and they’ve designated STEP as their charity of choice,” Spano said. “The first year, two years ago, they raised about $22,000 for STEP. Last year they raised about $35,000 for STEP.”

Spano said the train is restored, decorated, and set up for musical performances.

“The train includes some old passenger cars that they have refurbished and they hook them up to an engine and cover the outside of it with all sorts of holiday decorations,” Spano said. “One of the cars has actually been pitted out to host a band.”

Porter said he and a rock band, The Trews, will be performing holiday songs in the train.

“I’ve joined a group called The Trews, not as a member of their band, but we are doing a collaborative performance on this train,” Porter said.

According to Porter, Canadian Pacific put out a Christmas album in honor of the Holiday Train’s 20 year anniversary.

“I’m doing a song from the 20 Songs for 20 Years, which is something that Canadian Pacific has put out,” Porter said. “I’m doing a song called ‘Hey Santa,’ that I wrote for the train specifically, and a couple other classics.”

Spano said he plans on giving a kid from the Perspectives program the opportunity to ride the holiday train with him.

“As the mayor, they invite me to ride the train. Each year, they offer me the opportunity to bring a guest with me, and the last couple years I have been bringing a kid from the Perspectives program,” Spano said. “It’s a fun opportunity to give a kid a chance to do.”

According to Porter, the Holiday Train has been well-received in the towns it has visited so far.

“The crowds have been great, and there’s so much enthusiasm that surrounds this train,” Porter said. “We feel like we’re welcomed and the towns and government is really fantastic and supportive.”

Fokuo said families should try to arrive early, to save a spot in front of the train.

“Dress warm and get there early if you want a good spot in front of the train because people line up really early. Especially if you have little kids, you want to get there really early or else they won’t be able to see anything,” Fokuo said.

According to Spano, the Holiday Train will come to St. Louis Park, at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 11 outside STEP by the train tracks.