“Rockin’ around the Christmas Train, at Winona’s Amtrak stop.
Christmas lights hung where you can see. And a concert to top it off.”
The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train is coming to town Sunday, bringing with it 14 brightly colored rail cars lit with hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights — as well as a must-see variety show by rock musician and singer-songwriter Willy Porter and Canadian rock band The Trews.
But more to the heart of the event, it brings an opportunity for the community to help food shelves all across the U.S. and Canada — including Winona’s very own at Winona Volunteer Services. The train will stop in Winona at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Amtrak Station, and sponsors ask that attendees bring a non-perishable food item or monetary donation to place in the bin for the 10 Days of Giving food drive.
“It kicks off Christmas,” Winona Volunteer Services director Sandra Burke said.
Burke said it’s even more exciting this year, because the stop lands on a Sunday — instead of being in the middle of the week — and will give more parents an opportunity to go.
“It’s a great way for them to say ‘Hey kids, let’s have a family day,’” Burke said. “And it’s early enough that folks can get down there.”
Burke’s certainly thrilled for the music and Christmas lights, but for her, there’s something she’s a bit more excited for — the donations. The Holiday Train event is combined in with the 10 Days of Giving by Merchants Bank and it accounts for a significant part of their overall donations through yearly food drives — and it’s also a huge help that Canadian Pacific typically donates a large check to the cause as well.
It’s what helps sustain the food shelf throughout the year, especially during the holidays.
“(The 10 Days of Giving) is certainly our biggest combined pound and dollar drive,” Burke said, adding that last year it raised nearly $93,700 and a little more than 20,500 pounds of food.
For anyone planning to go, it’s expected to be a bit “nippy out” as Burke put it, so be sure to bundle up. As it sits, temperatures are forecast to be in the 20s.
“We hope to see you there,” Burke said.