Every year that Canadian Pacific's Holiday Train stops in Detroit Lakes, it brings in monetary and food donations to the Becker County Food Pantry, while entertaining the community. For 14 years, the train has helped keep the food pantry running.

"Since the (Holiday) Train has been coming, we have probably ... doubled in the number of people that we serve," said Brad Carlson, the director for the Becker County Food Pantry.

The festivities will be Friday, Dec. 13, in Detroit Lakes.

As of Nov. 29, the food pantry served 439 households and gave out 43,434 pounds of food just that month, Carlson said. Forty percent of the people they serve are under 17 years old. The donations from the community and the monetary donation from the Holiday Train organization help the food pantry function for about two weeks, Carlson said.

"(Detroit Lakes is) a recurring stop and that's because we see the community support year after year to support it," said Holiday Train spokesman Andy Cummings. "When we see communities that turn out and we see communities that donate generously, that's telling us that we need to keep coming back."

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People in the crowd wave to the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train as it rolls into Detroit Lakes on Thursday. (Marie Johnson / Tribune)
People in the crowd wave to the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train as it rolls into Detroit Lakes on Thursday. (Marie Johnson / Tribune)

The train has been helping food pantries across the United States and Canada since 1999. Since then, it's "raised more than $15.8 million and 4.8 million pounds of food," Cummings said. It's also brought more awareness to food insecurity and that it's a year-round issue, he said.

"Everything that you give at a Holiday Train show stays in that community to help your neighbors in need," Cummings said. "We've seen (donations) go up every year."

Most of those food donations are healthy, too. The Holiday Train organization advocates for healthy donations, stating on their website that "everyone has the right to access healthy, nutritious food." For the Becker County Food Pantry, Carlson said that people should just donate "something that you would normally eat." If nobody in your family likes water chestnuts, chances are they won't at the food pantry either.

When the train rolls into DL, five acts will perform for the lakes area audience: Meghan Patrick, Tanika Charles, Kelly Prescott, Alan Doyle and Beautiful Band, and Vishtén. The artists were carefully chosen as ones "that we think are going to draw the crowds out," Cummings said.

"We're looking forward to bringing them to DL and all these communities and seeing the reactions," he said. "We think it's going to be a really successful year."

Even though the show wraps up after about 30 minutes, the work at the Becker County Food Pantry won't. Cummings suggested that if people want to volunteer to help make the event successful, they should reach out to the food pantry.

If you go

What: Canadian Pacific's Holiday Train show

When: Friday, Dec. 13, at 2:30 p.m., roughly 30-minute show

Where: Holmes Street Railroad crossing near the Detroit Lakes Community and Cultural Center

Cost: Nonperishable food or monetary donation

Contact: Becker County Food Pantry at 218-846-0142

Other area train stops Dec. 13:

  • Glenwood: 10 a.m. at CP Station, 20 15th St. NE.

  • Alexandria: 11:30 a.m. at Eighth Avenue East railroad crossing by Hubbard Feed Mill
  • Mahnomen: 4:20 p.m. west of US 59 and south of East Washington Avenue
  • Plummer: 6 p.m. at the main railway crossing on Central Avenue
  • Thief River Falls: 7:30 p.m. at City Hall

The Trews and Willy Porter played a mix of Christmas tunes and rock 'n roll for a 30-minute show during the Holiday Train's stop in Detroit Lakes. (Marie Johnson / Tribune)
The Trews and Willy Porter played a mix of Christmas tunes and rock 'n roll for a 30-minute show during the Holiday Train's stop in Detroit Lakes. (Marie Johnson / Tribune)