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Holiday Train to roll into Detroit Lakes Thursday

A little girl sat on her father's shoulders watching as the Holiday Train cruised into town last December. Kaysey Price / Tribune1 / 2
The Holiday Train performers brought the Christmas spirit to town last December, and will do so again this Thursday, Dec. 13 when the train rolls back into Detroit Lakes at 2:30 p.m. Kaysey Price / Tribune2 / 2

It was 13 years ago now that the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train first rolled into Detroit Lakes, and each year, it has helped to keep the shelves of the Becker County Food Pantry filled with enough food to ensure that local families in need won't go hungry through the holiday season.

"It's a nice boost for us, especially during the holidays," says Brad Carlson, the food pantry's executive director. "Last year Canadian Pacific gave us $4,500, and we also picked up another $972 in cash and 446 pounds of food from local donations."

This year's stop, scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 13, will once again take place along Soo Avenue, between Holmes and Front streets. Though there is no admission fee for the free show, which features music by The Trews and Willy Porter — along with the chance to see Santa and Mrs. Claus singing and dancing along — audience members are asked to bring a donation of either cash or non-perishable food items to help fill the food pantry's shelves for the holiday season and beyond.

The half-hour performance is expected to begin at approximately 2:45 p.m. In addition to the music, there will also be at least two or three large pots of hot chocolate on hand to help keep kids and adults warm while they enjoy the show, and Santa and Mrs. Claus will be handing out candy for the kids as well.

After the show is over, the train will set off for its next stop, a 4:20 p.m. performance in Mahnomen, then head up to Plummer and Thief River Falls later that evening. A complete schedule is available online at

Thanks to the generous support of great communities along its railways, the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train has raised over $14.5 million and gathered 4.3 million pounds of food for communities along CP's routes in Canada and the United States.

"It is a privilege for Canadian Pacific to be able to run a program like this and connect with so many communities across our network," says Keith Creel, president and chief executive officer of Canadian Pacific. "I want to personally thank each individual who has made a donation over the past 20 years — your collective efforts have made the Holiday Train a huge success for two decades."

The need for local Food Pantry support continues to stay at a high level, Carlson says.

"Right now, we're averaging about 24 pounds of food per person (per visit)," he said, which is about half of what they might have received if they came through the door 15 years ago — despite the fact that the total amount of food collected and distributed has roughly doubled during that same period. Clients can use the service once per month, he added.

"Right now, one out of every 11 households in Becker County is on our client list," Carlson said. "Not everybody comes every month, but they're still on our list."

For more information about the Becker County Food Pantry — located at 1308 Rossman Ave. in Detroit Lakes — call 218-846-0142.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 18-plus years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Detroit Lakes School Board. 

(218) 844-1454