The outside temperature was downright cold, but the crowd's welcome to the Holiday Train was the complete opposite. Warm and gleeful cheers rang out from the people gathered on Main Street to see the train roll in.
The Holiday Train made a stop in Harvey at 4:15 p.m. at the CP Depot at 600 Lincoln Ave., then continued on to Minot, arriving at 7:15 p.m. at the Main Street railroad crossing. After Minot, the Holiday Train was to stop at Carpio's Main Street railroad crossing at 9:10 p.m.
Donations of nonperishable food items were loaded onto a truck as lively holiday music filled the air. Everything donated at the Holiday Train stop in Minot is to stay in Minot, just as everything donated at the Harvey and Carpio stops will stay in those places.
Jill Hambek/MDN • A cheerful crowd greeted the Holiday Train as it rolled into Minot Friday night. The Holiday Train made a stop in Minot near the old railroad depot on Main Street to take donations and entertain those who gathered to welcome its arrival.
Jill Hambek/MDN • A band performs on a stage that folded out from one of the boxcars of the Holiday Train Friday.
Jill Hambek/MDN • The Main Street Christmas tree has become an annual fixture each holiday season.
The Minot Area Homeless Coalition received donated funds in the form of an oversized check, as did the Mid-Dakota Chapter of the American Red Cross.
The goal of the Holiday Train program is to collect food and money for local food banks and to raise awareness in the fight against hunger. At every stop, people were asked to bring nonperishable food items to donate, and could also donate money. The program also makes a corporate contribution to a local food bank at each stop.
The Holiday Train, with its 14 decorated rail cars, measures about 1,000 feet in length. Each car is decorated with hundreds and thousands of LED Christmas lights.
The train includes a modified boxcar that transforms into a traveling stage for a lineup of musical performers. This year, Willie Porter, a guitar player from Wisconsin, and Sidney Grigg, a fiddler from Nashville performed on stage.
Everyone in attendance seemed to enjoy the Holiday Train's visit. Rick Watson, a Minot resident, said, "I'm glad we're one of their stops." A majority of the people there were also feeling the cold temperatures. Minot resident Lindsay Auran was one such person, but added, "It's actually warmer than it was last year. Last year we watched from the car."
The Holiday Train, which has been referred to as "North America's longest rolling fundraiser" for food pantries, is a one-of-a-kind program that has been going on for 13 years. Mike LoVecchio of CP Media Relations said in a statement that more than $5.6 million has been raised and more than 2 1/2 million pounds of food has been collected in the U.S. and Canada.
After its stop in Carpio tonight, the train will continue into southern Saskatchewan where it will do three more shows on Dec. 17 before ending its schedule for the year.