Holiday Train is coming
It's full steam ahead for the Holiday Train as it will soon be coming around the corner, bringing good cheer and help for those in need.
Canadian Pacific has once again scheduled a stop in Detroit Lakes on Friday, Dec. 14, at 3:15 p.m. for the traditional Holiday Train, which lights up the sky with it bright holiday lights and live music.
"Each time they come, they give us a check from Canadian Pacific -- usually for $1,000," said Jack Berenz, director of the Becker County Food Pantry. "And then we'll also have a collection out front for anybody who wants to donate either food or money to the pantry."
The event has become a popular one for the railroad and the community, as spectators gather around the Canadian Pacific tracks that intersect Holmes Street, one block west of the Detroit Lakes Community and Cultural Center.
"The train will pull up, and they'll have one car that'll open up, and it'll have a band in there," said Berenz, adding that on-lookers will get to hear performances by Clay Tones and Tracy Brown.
"They'll sing and put on a show for about 45 minutes, and boy do kids like it! They dance in the streets and sometimes we can get a sing-along going," laughed Berenz. "People just really have a good time."
There will be a pickup there to collect donations, as well as hot chocolate to warm the bellies of those taking in the show.
"And they'll usually have Santa Claus there to give some stuff away to the kids, so they just love coming out and seeing the big train and the lights all over the place," said Berenz.
The train is one of two Canadian Pacific trains that start out on the east coast.
The one coming through Detroit Lakes comes up through Chicago, the Twin Cities and many little towns along the way.
From Detroit Lakes, the Holiday train will head out to North Dakota and end up in Canada.
Typically, the train has usually arrived in Detroit Lakes a little later in the day, but this year it has been pushed up to 3:15, which may not look as dramatic because it'll be light out, but Berenz suspects everybody will still have a great time and hopes the food pantry will get a much-needed boost.
Last year local residents donated around $400 worth of food and funds during the Holiday Train event, and according to Berenz, this year the need is even greater.
"We've never had as many people come in for help as we did last month," said Berenz, who says they remain busy right now. "We had 492 families come in last month, while last year in November it was 453."
The amount of food distributed last month was 44,663 pounds -- a significant increase from last year in November when it was 41,818 pounds.
"This is the time of year when we usually see a lot of donations coming in, and we're hoping it's an increase because we have to carry through after the holidays because that's when donations really slack off until March," said Berenz, who says the Holiday Train is just the right kind of boost the pantry needs right now.
"There's plenty of room for parking, and everyone is just smiling and having a nice time," said Berenz. "It's just the spirit of the season."