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CP Holiday Train nears its Tri-Cities return — and hopes to feed struggling families

A 1,000-foot fully-lit train will roll through Port Moody and Port Coquitlam later this month, collecting non-perishable items for local food banks.

A beloved winter tradition was stuck at the station the last two years, going virtual for its annual fundraiser as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But this year, Tri-Cities residents are set welcome back the sounds of a rockin' on the rail-road holiday season.

On Dec. 18, the Canadian Pacific (CP) Holiday Train is scheduled to roll through Port Moody and Port Coquitlam — the final two stops of its 24th annual tour across the country.

It's set to host a show at each location by Juno-nominated Canadian artists MacKenzie Porter and Derik Baker (also known as Virginia to Vegas).

The 1,000-foot train will brake at its respective stops, open its stage doors and perform a setlist for a crowd of hundreds of local residents looking to take in the holiday spirit.

While the performances are free to enjoy, attendees are encouraged to consider bringing a donation as CP's goal for 2022 is to feed more families that are struggling to put food on the table.

This can be either a non-perishable food item or cash, organizers suggest.

All will be earmarked for SHARE Family and Community Services and its food bank, which CEO Claire MacLean admits has been experiencing challenges with not enough stock to meet the demand.

In an earlier interview with the Tri-City News, she said clients have grown by 50 per cent due to the rising costs for food.

Currently, SHARE feeds around 1,700 people a month.

And that number continues to grow as more are added to the client list each week, including families trying to make ends meet during the current inflationary spiral.

"The need is immense. We're seeing new registrants each week and it's not slowing down at all," added MacLean.

CP stated cash donations can also go further to help those in need as local non-profits already buy food at a discount.

Since 1999, the holiday train has helped collected five million pounds of food and raised more than $21 million for Canadian food banks and food shelves.

Dec. 18 schedule

The holiday train is set to feature 14 rail cars this year covered in special designs and lit by hundreds of thousands of LED lights.

When it stops, the musicians will sing a song to open the event and will be followed by a brief ceremony with public officials.

The performance is set to continue afterwards, which typically includes a mix of traditional and contemporary holiday music, until the final note is played.

Port Moody will be the first stop on the Tri-Cities tour, pulling in behind the recreation centre (300 Ioco Rd.) at 4:45 p.m. and leaving around 5:30 p.m.

CP will end its 2022 circuit in Port Coquitlam at Kingsway Avenue, between Mary Hill Road and Wilson Avenue, from 6:15 to 6:45 p.m.

For more information, interested residents can visit the CP Holiday Train's website.