Holiday Train leaves joy behind

Whitehall received an early dose of holiday cheer as the Holiday Train made its annual pilgrimage to the Amtrak Station on Monday afternoon.

The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train is the North America’s longest-running rolling food fundraiser and raises awareness of local hunger along its tour of Canada and the United States.

Each year the train delivers a check to food banks in the communities in which it stops as well as some festive holiday fun.

Despite its arrival when most kids were still in school (it arrived at 2:20 p.m.) a large crown began to gather around 2 p.m. as they eagerly awaited the train to pull up beside the station.

Once it arrived, officials from Canadian Pacific were joined by Santa Claus in greeting the crowd.

Shortly afterward, the wall of the boxcar that serves as a traveling stage dropped and 23 year old Sydney Grigg got the crowd in the spirit as she sang a holiday jingle.

Afterwards representatives from Canadian Pacific introduced Mayor Peter Telisky and Supervisor elect George Armstrong (Supervisor Richard “Geezer” Gordon was ill and couldn’t attend) and then rail officials presented Mark Koeble, director of the Whitehall Food Pantry, with a check for $1,500.

Besides the check, the food pantry also received a truck load of food donated by those in attendance.

“We got more than we did last year. I was very appreciative of what I got yesterday,” Koeble said. “Ever since word got out that I was a hungry puppy, things have improved. Between Roxanne and her fine staff at Berkshire Bank, Fra and Cheryl Putorti for the donations from the Nuniziata’s concert, the kids at the school and the Whitehall Volunteer Fire Company, I would like to thank the community for stepping up the plate and helping out the food pantry.”

Koeble said the assistance couldn’t have come at a better time.

“Anything will help because of the way the economy is going and what I’ve seen, people need food.”

After receiving his check, Koeble gave way to Grigg, Wesley Porter and their band who closed the show with several original and holiday songs that had those in attendance dancing in the parking lot.

After leaving Whitehall, the train headed north for stops in Ticonderoga, Port Henry before stopping in Plattsburgh for the evening.

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