For much of the year, railroads crisscrossing North Dakota haul away its grain, oil and other produce to distant markets, but once a year a train comes back laden with some holiday cheer.
Two highly decorated trains set off from Quebec on Nov. 25, with more than 150 communities on its seasonal itinerary. Since 1999, Canadian Pacific's annual Holiday Train has been hauling live entertainment and a festive spirit to communities along the line, drawing in more than 3 million pounds of donated food and $7.4 million in the process.
Very much along that line, residents in Minot, Carrington, Harvey and Carpio will all get a visit from one of those trains on Wednesday, Dec. 18. The boxcar entertainment for the evening will include performances by The Claytones and Willy Porter. The times and locations for each show that day are listed in the sidebar.
The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train pulls into Hamilton, Ontario, in this undated photo. Every year since 1999, a pair of bedecked locomotives travel to more than 150 communities, putting on live music while collecting donations for local food pantries and charitable organizations. The train rolls into Minot the evening of Dec. 18.
While the show is free for all, in the spirit of the season attendees are encouraged to make a donation to their local food bank. For Minot, the suggested charity is the Minot Area Homeless Coalition, which will be setting up a truck at the event for people to bring non-perishable food items to.
"We hope to fill that truck," said Mac McLeod, MAHC's executive director. Collected items will be used to stock the coalition's food pantry in anticipation of an increased need over the holidays.
"We're only one part of that provision," McLeod said, one of five pantries serving the Minot area. "I do know we've had a tremendous increase" in usage, he reckons by more than 35 percent since last year.
Entertainment schedule for Dec. 18
-Carrington Rail Depot, 601 6th Ave. NE, 2:05 p.m.
-CP Depot, 600 Lincoln Ave., 4:30 p.m.
-Main St. railroad crossing, 7:30 p.m.
-Main St. railroad crossing, 9:15 p.m.
In addition, CP has pledged to match donations made to Feeding America at (feedingamerica.org/holidaytrain). Donations made to the nonprofit fund a number of programs that seek to provide nourishment to Americans struggling with hunger, from schoolchildren to disaster victims.
The holiday train organizers are also holding a "Capture the Spirit" photo contest through Facebook (search "Canadian Pacific Holiday Train") and its website (www.cpr.ca). Participants could win a trip for four on board next year's train, or a donation to their local food bank.
Early donations or monetary contributions to the MAHC can be brought in to its office at 105-1st St. SE, or inquiries on how else to help can be made at 852-6300. More than just a food bank, the coalition coordinates services to help area homeless persons and advocate for their general welfare. The holiday train is one of many events held throughout the year raising funds and provisions for that cause. More information on its upcoming drives can be found at the Minot Area Homeless Coalition Inc. Facebook page.