Holiday Train rolls into town Friday

T he familiar rumble of a train passing through the village will be joined by the sounds of joyous children, the ho-ho-ho of Santa Claus, and the melodic strumming of acoustic guitars as the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train returns to the community to support the Whitehall Food Pantry.

The train has hit the rails to raise food, money and awareness in the fight against hunger and will stop at the Amtrak Station on Main Street at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 30.

Along with live musical entertainment and a visit from Old Saint Nick, there will be a food drive to benefit the Whitehall Food Pantry.

The event comes at an ideal time for the Whitehall Food Pantry.

“It’s been tough,” said Mark Koeble, director of the food pantry.It’s busier than it was last year. I’m in a little better shape than last year when I had 15 empty shelves but we had 18 families last week, 16 the week before that and 13 the week before that.”

He said the event has been a boon for the pantry, generating bags of donated food. Canadian Pacific also presents Koeble with a check each year.

“The last few years have been real good.”

Everyone who attends is encouraged to bring a nonperishable food item or a monetary donation for the food pantry.

Koeble said the pantry is especially in need of cereal, peanut butter, canned soup, canned fruit and tuna fish.

“Those are the areas that are really hurting. And although people don’t like to hear it, cash donations are always appreciated to help fill up the shelves,” Koeble said.

This is the 14th year two Holiday Trains have embarked on their transcontinental journeys across North America. During the journey, the trains will travel approximately 6,000 miles across Canada and the United States drumming up support for local food banks in more than 150 communities.

Each train is decorated in lights and other decorations and includes a modified box car that has been turned into a traveling stage for performers.

Headlining this year’s U.S. train will be The Claytones and Tracey Brown.

Born in the Ottawa Valley, the Claytones are billed as playing a “Canadiana brand of country-soaked roots music with old-school sensibilities.”

Since 1999, the Holiday Train program has raised close to $6.4 million in Canadian currency and 2.6 million pounds of food for food banks across North America. Everything that is raised in the community stays in that community.

Brown was part of Family Brown, Canada’s most awarded country band, and a member of the Canadian County Music Hall of Fame. Over her career, she has released more than 20 albums.

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